Ganley bows out of politics as Kelly sees off Sinnott


Libertas leader Declan Ganley tonight conceded defeat in the North West, saying he was bowing out of politics and would not be involved in a second campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.

The third seat in the South constituency went down to the wire tonight with Labour's Alan Kelly just edging outgoing Independent MEP Kathy Sinnott for the final place on the Brussels ticket.

Fine Gael newcomer Seán Kelly earlier took the second seat on the sixth count after Sinn Féin's Toireasa Ferris was eliminated. Fianna Fáil MEP Brian Crowley had as expected topped the poll and was elected on the fourth count following the distribution of his party colleague Ned O'Keeffe's votes.

Meanwhile in the North West constituency, a recheck of votes had led to a delay in the declaration of results.

The count was suspended last night after Mr Ganley asked the returning officer, Kieran McDermott, to "check out" a report that "a bin of Ganley votes" had been mistakenly allocated to another candidate, according to Mr Ganley's spokesman. But Mr Ganley's first preference vote fell by 3,000 after the recheck today.

Conceding defeat tonight, Mr Ganley said: “I will not be involved in the second Lisbon campaign, I’ve said that upfront. I’ve got to get back to work,” he said.

“I sought a democratic mandate and I didn’t get one, and that’s how democracy works. And as I said I can take no for an answer.”

Mr Ganley was speaking outside the count centre, the TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar, where he was asked if Libertas would continue.

He said: “We’ll see, I mean that’s something that we’ll discuss. There are very many thousands and thousands of people involved in Libertas across the European Union. We’ll all be discussing that internally and they’ll decide what we do next.”

The first count of votes in the three-seater constituency was announced earlier last night, revealing that sitting Independent MEP Marian Harkin polled 84,813 first preferences. Former MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher followed with 82,643 and sitting Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins with 80,093.

In the South constituency, Mr Crowley topped the poll with 118,258 or 23.74 per cent of the first preference vote, just over 6,000 votes short of the quota, followed by former GAA president Sean Kelly who polled an impressive 92,579 or 18.58 per cent of first preferences to put himself in pole position to take the second seat.

However, the destination of the final seat remains unclear.

When Séan Kelly's surplus votes were re-distributed Toireasa Ferris was eliminated leaving just Alan Kelly and Kathy Sinnott in the race.

Ms Sinnott gained an extra 3,819 votes to take her to 75,168 while Alan Kelly gained 5,270 to take him to 83,921.

Earlier Fianna Fáil's Liam Aylward and Labour's Nessa Childers clinched the final seats in Ireland East at the seventh count.

Mr Aylward was expected to come in third behind Ms Childers but surged into second place with a massive transfer vote after running mate Thomas Byrne was eliminated in the fifth count.

He was elected with 103,605 votes, giving a welcome boost to the battered Fianna Fáil party reeling from the loss of Dublin MEP Eoin Ryan and a poor result in the local elections.

Ms Childers, the daughter of the late President Erskine Childers, secured 102,220 votes.

Poll-topper Mairead McGuinness romped to victory for Fine Gael in the first count last night but her running mate John Paul Phelan, who hoped to retain the party's second seat, ended in fourth place.

Former TD for Dublin West Joe Higgins won the third seat in Dublin, beating Fianna Fáil candidate and sitting MEP Eoin Ryan and Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald.

The Socialist party candidate was elected on the seventh count following the resdistribution of transfers from Ms McDonald.

Mr Higgins joins Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell - who exceeded the quota - and the Labour Party's Proinsias de Rossa who was elected on the sixth count following the elimination of Patricia McKenna.

Mr Higgins, who once spent a month in jail over a campaign against bin taxes, beat Mr Ryan by almost 7,000 votes for the final seat as dawn was breaking today.

He declared elected at 5.15am after 400 counting staff had worked through the night at the RDS count centre. Mr Higgins picked up a massive 22,000 transfers from Ms McDonald to push him past Mr Ryan.