independent

Thursday 20 June 2019

Fine Gael take two seats as Fianna Fail flounder in Europe

Elections 2019

It was a marathon count but it eventually came to a conclusion on Wednesday night, five days after voters went to the polls.

There were 17 candidates in the field in the four seat constituency which covers Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal in Ulster; all five counties of Connacht (Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway and Mayo); and five of the counties in Leinster - Kildare, Longford, Louth, Meath and Westmeath.

Independent Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Mairead McGuinness of Fine Gael and Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin) were the two outgoing MEPS with Independent Marian Harkin not seeking re-election.

McGuinness was elected on the first count with 134,630 votes. Luke 'Ming' Flanagan (Independent) on 88,543 votes; Mat Carthy (Sinn Féin) on 79,437 votes and Maria Walsh (Fine Gael) 71,793 votes were all elected without reaching the quota.

Peter Casey (Indp) polled 59,635 votes while the surprise preformance was that of Saoirse McHugh of the Green Party who came in fifth on 54,548 votes.

The performance of the two Fiaan Fáil candidates, Brendan Smith and Ann Rabbitte has been viewed as extremely disappointing. Smith managed 44,692 votes and Rabbitte, 31,893.

The party had 12.28% of the first preference vote compared to 33.47% for Fine Gael. Sinn Féin was on 13.05%.

The Electorate was 1,224,88 with the Quota set at 118,986. The total poll was 616,555 with 21,628 spoiled votes giving a valid poll of 594,927. The turnout was 50.34%.

Speaking from the count centre in Castlebar, former Rose of Tralee winner, Maria Walsh, who was entering the political arnea for the first time, said she was overjoyed.

"I am deeply humbled - a huge, great thank you to all, I am so encouraged and energised by your vote. I feel privileged to represent all those in the Midlands North-West and would like to thank everyone who voted for me and assure the entire electorate that I will work tirelessly to represent their best interests.

"It has been a great honour to meet so many throughout the constituency and I feel grateful to have this opportunity to make positive strides for all in this region.

"As a newcomer to the political platform, I am encouraged by your support, and would like to encourage others, who like me don't fit the traditional political mould, to consider politics. We need diversity to enrich politics," Ms Walsh said.

Fine Gael's Director of European Elections, Minister Regina Doherty said: "I am not surprised but absolutely delighted that the people of the Midlands and North West have chosen to send Maria to Brussels as their representative.

"She will approach her new duties in the same way that she has carried herself throughout the campaign - with energy, passion and true commitment.

"Maria will be a great new addition to the Fine Gael team in Europe and will be part of the party's ongoing work to ensure that Ireland is not only strongly represented in the European Parliament but also best served by the EU and its policies," Minister Doherty said.

Mairead McGuiness said she saw her re-election as a signal of approval for the work she has put in over the last five years, from agriculture and food, to the environment to her work on Brexit and a whole range of other issues.

"And I want to assure those who have voted for me, and the entire electorate, that there will be no let up on my efforts over the next five years."

McGuinness said the new European Parliament now taking shape will determine how effectively the Parliament can be in the years ahead.

She said that Brexit has become more complicated and worrying in recent weeks.

"We remain committed to the withdrawal agreement and expect the incoming leadership of the Conservative Party to show real leadership and chart a course for the U.K. out of the current impasse.

"The art of compromise, an essential ingredient for successful politics, has unfortunately been downgraded and viewed as a sign of weakness rather than a sign of strength in the current disruptive political environment, and that will be an even deeper challenge than heretofore," she said.

"And an early and critically important issue for the new Parliament will be to successfully complete negotiations for the new Common Agriculture Policy for the period beyond 2020."

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