Tuesday 22 October 2019

Ireland South: Mick Wallace elected, and his transfers set to decide who wins 'zombie' seat

Candidate for Independents 4 Change in Ireland South Mick Wallace
Candidate for Independents 4 Change in Ireland South Mick Wallace

Ralph Riegel

TRANSFERS from Wexford Independent TD Mick Wallace will now determine whether Fine Gael or the Green Party are left with the fifth and 'zombie' European Parliament seat in Ireland South.

Mr Wallace was elected today to the third Brussels seat in Ireland South thanks to heavy transfers from Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada who

was eliminated yesterday after her party withdrew their call for a full recount.

Mr Wallace went from 112,528 votes to 139,529 thanks to 27,001 transfers on the nineteenth count.

His surplus of 19,674 ballots will now be distributed between the remaining two candidates, outgoing Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune and

Green Party Senator Grace O'Sullivan, to determine the finishing order.

Liadh Ni Riada (Niall Carson/PA)
Liadh Ni Riada (Niall Carson/PA)

Sen O'Sullivan went from 98,606 votes to 114,287 thanks to a transfer from Sinn Féin of 15,681.

Ms Clune saw her 2,300 lead wiped out by the strong Green transfer gains.

The Fine Gael candidate saw her vote go from 101,047 to 110,085 thanks to 9,038 transfers from Sinn Féin.

Sen O'Sullivan now holds a lead of 4,202 votes over Ms Clune with Mr Wallace's surplus distribution now to occur.

Outgoing Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly topped the poll and clinched the first seat on the ninth count.

Former Fianna Fáil Minister Billy Kelleher exceeded the quota on the seventeenth count and was elected to the second seat.

However, the battle between Fine Gael's outgoing MEP Deirdre Clune and the Green Party's Senator Grace O'Sullivan remains neck and neck.

Ms Ní Riada's transfers massively benefitted Sen O'Sullivan.

However, Mr Wallace's surplus could still bridge the gap between the Fine Gael and Green candidates - though experts indicated, just like

the Sinn Féin transfer, the Greens will likely benefit more substantially than Fine Gael.

Whoever loses out in the battle between Ms Clune and Sen O'Sullivan will be left with the fifth MEP berth which has been dubbed the

'zombie' seat.

This fifth and final seat in Ireland South will only become available to the MEP elected to it when Britain formally leaves the EU and Brexit is enacted.

Ms Clune had been 2,306 votes ahead of her Green Party rival before the nineteenth count.

Senator O'Sullivan snatched a European Parliament seat by finishing a mere 326 votes ahead of Ms Ní Riada who was eliminated on the eighteenth count after Sinn Féin had withdrawn their recount request.

The small margin separated the two candidates out of more than 755,000 votes cast in the sprawling 12 county constituency.

It was apparent from yesterday that Ms Ní Riada was almost certain to fail to overturn the now 326 vote deficit in the recount to prevent

her elimination.

Fine Gael's Deirdre Clune delivered another miraculous performance on transfers - turning an 18,000 deficit to Senator O'Sullivan and Ms Ní Riada around in the space of just two counts.

By the seventeenth count, Ms Clune had a lead of just under 1,900 votes over her nearest rival.

By the eighteenth count she had stretched her lead to 2,300 votes.

That earlier count, which was the distribution of Fianna Fáil Councillor Malcolm Byrne's 80,000 votes, saw Mr Kelleher elected with a massive transfer of 38,767.

Ms Clune critically outperformed her two rivals, having trailed both by almost 18,000 votes before the sixteenth count.

In 2014, she delivered another transfer miracle by overtaking her running mate, Health Minister Simon Harris, on the tenth count to be

elected an MEP.

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