Saturday 24 August 2019

Former Rose takes surprise spot for Fine Gael while Casey loses out

Maria Walsh at the Castlebar count centre. Picture: Mark Condren
Maria Walsh at the Castlebar count centre. Picture: Mark Condren

Cormac McQuinn in Castlebar

Former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has caused an upset and won a surprise seat in the European Parliament.

Ms Walsh will join Mairead McGuinness in Brussels taking a second seat for Fine Gael in Midlands-North-West.

Political newcomer Ms Walsh vowed to "hit the ground running" in Brussels and said she is excited to represent the West and North-West.

She conceded her victory wasn't expected by some but said her team "worked ferociously" to get her elected. She won 107,198 votes.

Ms Walsh (31) was the first member of the LGBT community to be crowned Rose of Tralee.

She was joined by her parents, Noreen and Vincent, at the count and began her victory speech saying: "Wow, MEP Walsh, thank you very, very much."

She said she was "deeply honoured" to get to work for rural Ireland in Brussels.

Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was also returned to the European Parliament with a vote of 121,824.

Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy took the final seat with 98,732 votes.

The result will come as a relief to Mary Lou McDonald who had a nightmare first local and European elections as leader.

Ms McDonald denied her leadership was at risk when she visited the count centre earlier. In his speech Mr Carthy said Sinn Féin "will see better days".

Ms McGuinness topped the poll in the first count on Monday with a massive first preference vote of 134,630.

She is being tipped as a future president of the European Parliament.

Fianna Fáil failed to win a seat in the constituency for the second European Election in a row. Both candidates, TDs Brendan Smith and Anne Rabbitte, were eliminated during the count.

Ex-presidential candidate Peter Casey's vote eventually came in at 78,362. Last night he said he's "almost certainly" going to run for the Dáil.

Irish Independent

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