Kelleher secures second seat as Ireland South count heads into fifth day
Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher has been elected as an MEP for Ireland South.
The Cork North Central TD secured the second seat in the European Parliament constituency on the fourth day of counting after receiving transfers from his party running mate Malcolm Byrne, who was knocked out on Wednesday afternoon.
Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly became the first person elected in the 12-county constituency on Tuesday afternoon after topping the poll with 119,883 votes.
Independents 4 Change candidate Mick Wallace looks set to take the next seat in the coming counts.
The race for the fourth seat and fifth – the so-called “Brexit seat” – remains tight.
The fifth seat cannot be taken up until Britain leaves the EU.
Following the 17th count, Fine Gael’s incumbent MEP Deirdre Clune was in fourth place, having leap-frogged past a number of candidates, while Green Party senator Grace O’Sullivan was in fifth spot, followed by Sinn Fein’s MEP Liadh Ni Riada.
Fine Gael’s Andrew Doyle, Labour’s Sheila Nunan and Fianna Fail’s Malcolm Byrne were eliminated on Wednesday.
Speaking at the count centre, Ms O’Sullivan said: “I was looking for a little miracle and it has happened.
“We knew all along that the Sheila Nunan/Labour vote would be a good transfer.
We expected that there would be a Green vote coming out of Andrew Doyle’s because of Wicklow and that strong green position in Wicklow so I got that absolute boost.
“Now I am feeling very confident but it still has a way to go. Happy days so far.”
Sinn Fein remain confident that their candidate can take a seat.
Speaking at the count centre on Wednesday afternoon, Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O’Brien said he still believed they were “in a very strong position”.
Asked if the party would be disappointed if Ms Ni Riada ends up taking the fifth seat, he said: “A seat is a seat, we set out to win a seat. If it’s the fifth seat obviously we will need to analyse the impact that has because nobody is exactly sure what the fifth seat entails yet.”
The mammoth count at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Co Cork is set to run into a fifth day.
It could be Thursday evening before the final figures are clear.
The count, which began on Sunday, has been delayed by the sheer size and volume of the 2ft long ballot papers featuring 23 candidates.
Ireland South, which has an electorate of 1.4 million, had a total poll of 755,000 votes.
It means some 200 staff have been struggling to grapple with 750,000 ballot papers, weighing 7.5 tonnes.