Green Party's rising star Saoirse McHugh knocked out of race for Europe
GREEN Party candidate Saoirse McHugh, who had been tipped to surf the 'green wave' to a surprise electoral victory, has been knocked out of the race for a European Parliament seat.
There was speculation that Ms McHugh (28) would cause an upset after an exit poll put the Achill Islander in the frame to go to Brussels.
However, it didn't pan out and she was eliminated on the eleventh count in the Midlands-North-West constituency just after 1:00 this morning.
In the end the first-time candidate got 61,957 votes.
Ms McHugh came to national prominence after an impressive performance on an RTÉ TV debate where she clashed with controversial ex-presidential candidate Peter Casey.
During the debate Ms McHugh took issue with Mr Casey's views on immigrants and told him: "Go on Dancing with the Stars if you want attention".
It became apparent on Monday that she would not take a seat.
She told Independent.ie at the time she didn't plan to dwell on disappointment if she lost because it could "take away from the fact that that many people decided to give me their number one and we worked so hard".
She said she was "overwhelmed" by the more than 51,000 first preference votes she won.
Ms McHugh is now seen as a rising star in the Green Party.
Asked if she'd like to run for the Dáil she said: "Ah stop. I can’t think about that right now."
The 'green wave' vote has seen her party boost its numbers in local authorities and win a European Parliament seat for Ciarán Cuffe in Dublin.
She said: "The Greens have done very well. And what that will do is it will definitely mean that the bigger parties will take climate action seriously.
"They know that it’s not a fad and it’s not going away."
Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness topped the poll in Midlands-North-West and was elected with a first preference vote of 134,630.
Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan is on course to take the second seat. He is on 97,319 votes.
Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy is also in a strong position to return to the European Parliament. His vote stands at 84,825.
Former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh is set to join her Fine Gael running mate Ms McGuinness in the European Parliament. She has 80,338 votes.
Mr Casey is on 66,565 votes.
Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith is on 64,532.
The quota in the four-seat constituency is 118,986.
Transfers from Ms McHugh's vote will be distributed to the remaining candidates when the twelfth count begins at 10:00 this morning.