'If I was in Gallagher's position I would be looking for recount too' - Marian Harkin
A FULL recheck of ballot papers in the Midlands Northwest constituency is underway this morning.
The recount was announced late last night by Returning Officer Fintan Murphy after it emerged that just 275 votes separated the final two candidates - both of whom are outgoing MEPs.
Independent Marian Harkin and Fianna Fail’s Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher will now face an anxious wait as each and every one of the 663,703 votes are rechecked.
Harkin, who is holding on to the slight lead, said she accepted the decision by Fianna Fail to request a full recheck was reasonable.
“If I was in Pat the Cope's position I would be looking for it too,” she said.
She said the minuscule difference in votes leading to the recheck was “uncharted territory” in a European election here adding; “It’s on a learning curve for all of us.”
She added that the outcome was a clear indication that each and every vote counts. Harkin said the process could take two or three days.
“The speed at which we move will be determined by the level of co-operation between Fianna Fail and myself,” she added.
And despite facing into a lengthy wait as the recheck takes place, Harkin is holding out hope of retaining the lead, adding: "I'd prefer to be looking at the votes than for them."
Lawyers for Fianna Fail are expected to arrive at the count centre in Castlebar this morning to oversee the recheck.
Harkin, an Independent, said her team did not have the same level of resources or expertise as Fianna Fail but said they would not be found wanting.
The recheck came about after the transfer of Sinn Fein candidate Matt Carthy’s surplus between the two on the eigth count
Gallagher said the recheck was necessary because only the slimmest of margins separated them.
"Of course, we have to take into consideration that the margin is just 275, which is less than 0.05pc, and in the circumstances I am very pleased that the returning officer has done this,” he said.