Harkin to fight it out with 'The Cope' for last seat as Ming tops poll
INDEPENDENT Marian Harkin looks set to battle it out with Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher for the final seat in the Midlands North West constituency.
While a first count in the four-seater constituency is not due until lunchtime today, tallies of first preference voting has the pair pitched in a close battle for the final spot.
The first preference tallies place Luke 'Ming' Flanagan as taking the top slot, followed by Sinn Fein's Matt Carthy. Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness is expected to take the third seat.
Political sources were quick to point out that the tallies were relying on first preference votes and would only become more definitive once a first count takes place early this afternoon. With an estimated 1.2 million people eligible to vote, returning officers were estimating a poll of 700,000.
Mr Carthy said he was relaxed about the outcome.
"We don't know what's going to happen. We've two sets of figures, an exit poll and tallies and they are a little bit conflicting. But whatever happens the reality is Sinn Fein has had a massive weekend in terms of local election results.
"The European tallies are looking good but we can't take anything for granted. And whatever happens, our challenge is to ensure we use the mandate that we received and deliver for the communities that have placed their trust in us."
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny appeared to concede on behalf of the sitting Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins – despite the fact that the candidate himself is not admitting defeat.
Mr Kenny paid tribute to Mr Higgins for his "services to his party and country", describing him as an "outstanding and committed member of Fine Gael for many years".
"While votes haven't been counted it looks as if Jim is going to be in difficulty here obviously he'll consider himself what is the best opportunity for him for the future," said Mr Kenny.
However, Mr Higgins described the tallies as "patchy and inaccurate", adding that he was still hopeful of holding on to his seat.
Mr Kenny is also facing his own battle after Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams called on him to resign. "I think the people have said 'Enda it's time to go'. You were elected on an entirely different mandate than the one you and the Labour Party have implemented," said Mr Adams.
"He described his election as a democratic revolution so this is no less a democratic revolution. It isn't a protest vote. I listened to some Government spokespersons trying to dismiss this as a mid-term election where the electorate were giving the Government a scolding or a rap on the knuckles. This is no such thing, it is deep-rooted, it's a seismic shift in the political landscape here."
Earlier, Mr Kenny said he would not rule out a partnership with Sinn Fein, saying: "Who knows what the future holds?" But Mr Adams was more definitive in ruling out any such deal, saying talk of such partnerships reduced politics to "some sort of a game".
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