Joy for Hayes and Childers as Eamon Ryan loses out
FINE Gael minister Brian Hayes refused to rule out a future return to national politics after winning a seat in the European Parliament.
Mr Hayes and Independent Nessa Childers were both elected in Dublin last night without reaching the quota.
They beat off stiff competition from Green Party leader Eamon Ryan who had sought a recheck of ballot papers in a last-ditch bid to become an MEP.
Eventually Mr Ryan was forced to admit that his strong support "wasn't quite enough".
"But we ran a good campaign on very limited resources. Our vote has really increased massively – and I think it can can provide a base to grow further," he said.
Mr Hayes, who pipped him for the third seat, said he may return to national politics in five years' time.
"We'll have to wait and see; I'm not ruling anything out," he said.
He said he was "looking forward" to working with newly elected MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and stressed the need for all MEPs to "work together and put the interest of the country first," adding: "We're ambassadors not for our parties or the Government, we're ambassadors for the people."
Ms Childers said she would now have to have some talks with Mr Flanagan to try and present some kind of united Irish front in Europe.
The sitting MEP, who famously broke away from the Labour Party to become an Independent, vowed to "fight for the Irish people" in Europe.
Asked if she would co-operate with the controversial Flanaganan, she accepted talks between the two of them would now have to take pace.
But she did concede that working together would be difficult "in some ways".
"I don't agree with all his opinions, but we have to see if we can work together.
"I haven't spoken to him about this yet, so I can't in any way assume what's going to happen.
"There will certainly be a case for discussing where we all are when we get out there.
"It's a conversation that must be had in my opinion," she said.
The recount of votes swung into action at lunchtime yesterday in the RDS.
Thousands of ballot papers were meticulously rechecked in the presence of a battery of election workers.
Mr Ryan had immediately requested the recount following the seventh count which ran on into the early hours of yesterday morning. Just 1,242 ballots separated Ms Childers, Mr Hayes and Mr Ryan after the votes of Fianna Fail's Mary Fitzpatrick were distributed.
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Despite the slim chance of a major upset, Mr Ryan hoped that the late-night counting may have inadvertently led to mistakes which would work in his favour.
Following the final count, Ms Childers overtook her two male rivals, securing 73,598 votes.