Green Party rising star Saoirse McHugh eliminated from Midlands North West

Green candidate Saoirse McHugh has been eliminated from the Midlands North West election on the eleventh count.

Ms McHugh garnered 61,957 votes and the quota required for election was 118,986.

The 28-year-old Achill Island native became an unexpected contender for one of the hotly-contested seats, with a strong showing of 12% in an RTE exit poll after a much-praised TV debate appearance and a reported “Green surge” of support for the environmental party across the country.

There was immediately discussion from commentators that Ms McHugh should run for a Dail seat if not elected to Europe, leveraging the support gained by the Greens in the local and European levels to a stronger showing in the Irish parliament.

However, speaking at the Castlebar count centre, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said they had not yet spoken about her future, noting that elections were tiring and stressful, especially for a first-time candidate.

Ms McHugh avoided media for the most part while visiting the contact centre on Monday, overheard saying she had been overwhelmed by the sudden media attention.

“I think she’s done a remarkable job,” Mr Ryan said.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to her, I want a chance to sit down and have a good chat with her, but I always felt when I met her first how do we get people to wake up to the change we have to make, and she was kind of bemoaning the fact everyone else is talking about it but not actually doing it.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“Eventually, I said ‘well Saoirse you should run because you know if others aren’t doing it well then you should stand up and be one of the decision makers’.”

Ms McHugh had also hit the headlines over the last week by saying she would quit the Green Party if they ever entered a coalition with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Ms McHugh was beaten in the polls by controversial failed presidential candidate Peter Casey, who had garnered 66,565 votes in the round which saw the Green candidate eliminated.

Counting in Midlands North West resumed on Wednesday morning, with five remaining candidates battling for three seats.

Independent incumbent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan looks likely to take the second seat, saying by his own predictions he will be the only other candidate elected who reaches the quota.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness took the first seat in the constituency on Monday, topping the poll.