Midlands-North-West: Maria Walsh says Green rival deserves seat... but not at her expense
FINE Gael European Election hopeful Maria Walsh has said Green Party rival Saoirse McHugh "deserves a seat" but if it comes down to a battle between them "I want to win".
Both first time candidates are in contention for a seat in the Midlands-North-West constituency.
Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness is expected to stay in the European Parliament but former Rose of Tralee Ms Walsh has put in a strong campaign and is in with a chance of taking a second seat for the party.
Ms McHugh impressed in her zinger responses to controversial Independent candidate Peter Casey in a TV debate and will also benefit from being part of the 'green wave' surge.
Speaking at the Castlebar count centre this afternoon, Ms Walsh said waiting for the result of her first election is "a little bit nerve-wracking" especially as it could be Wednesday before her fate is known.
She said "it's going to be a fight regardless". She predicted Ms McGuinness will keep her seat and "after that it's anybody's game".
Ms Walsh said she crossed paths with Ms McHugh on the campaign and said her rival is a "phenomenal person".
"I came away from meeting her first and I said to my team that girl deserves a seat because she is not only passionate about the west and north-west but obviously climate running as a green."
She added: "I think Saoirse has proven that getting involved, you can change anything."
However, it was put to her that if it came down to the two of them she will want to win.
Ms Walsh said: "It was hard to watch Mayo lose against Roscommon last night. It was a point.
"So I’d never want to see the same thing happen to myself."
She said of the campaign: "anything that I could have thrown at this I did" and said "Saoirse did the exact same".
"But would I like to win a seat? Of course I want to win a seat for the party I want to win a seat for my community and for the west and North-West... we’ll see what happens."
Just under half of the approximately 620,000 votes in Midlands-North-West have been counted but early indications are that sitting MEP Mairead McGuiness will be elected on the first count.
Ms McGuinness is also expected to have a comfortable surplus which may benefit her running mate, former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh.
The first count is unlikely to be announced until lunchtime tomorrow at the earliest.
Meanwhile, with a battle expected for the other three seats, there have been predictions that counting may continue in Castlebar until Thursday.