'It will be tough' - Green Party leader plays down chances of Saoirse McHugh winning European seat
GREEN Party leader Eamon Ryan has played down the chances of first-time candidate Saoirse McHugh winning a European Parliament seat saying it will be "tough".
He praised Ms McHugh who burst onto the national stage with a confident performance during a TV debate, but said the exit poll that put her support on 12pc "probably exaggerated our vote".
Fine Gael's Mairead McGuiness is set to keep her European Parliament and will top the poll.
The results of the first count are due within hours.
Ms McHugh is among a number of candidates in contention for the other three seats.
Speaking at the count centre in Castlebar Mr Ryan said of her election chances "I think it will be tough" but she's "still in the race".
He said: "We have to wait and see. The exit poll probably exaggerated our vote I’d imagine."
Mr Ryan made the remarks after discussing where transfers are going with outgoing Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.
He added: "Win, lose or draw I think she’s done an incredible job. I’m absolutely proud of her. She’s a brilliant candidate for us. I think she affected the green wave right across the country. People were inspired by her."
Asked if the party will select her as a Dáil candidate he replied: "We’ll wait and see because it’s a tough thing running for anything."
He said it's exhausting and "I think an election count is not the time to think about that."
Before the election Mr Ryan place a €50 bet on Ms McHugh to win a seat and would be in line to win €2,500 if she succeeds.
Asked what he'd do with the money he replied: "Have a party. That was the idea. We might have a party anyway, come what may."
He said Ciarán Cuffe will win a seat in Dublin and "even if we don’t win the other two it’s still a huge achievement. The vote we got is really significant."
Mr Ryan will be travelling to the Ireland South count centre later to meet his candidate there, Senator Grace O'Sullivan.