Harkin tops North West poll


Outgoing Independent MEP Marian Harkin topped the poll in the European elections North West constituency in the early hours of this morning with 121,672 votes.

Former MEP and Minister of State Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher, currently a Fianna Fáil TD, came in second with 120,930.

Current Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins ended up in third place with 120,185.

Despite failing to reach the quota, the three candidates were declared elected simultaneously after the sixth count, following the elimination of Libertas leader Declan Ganley, who finished with 84,277.

The first preferences for the MEPs were 84,813 for Ms Harkin, 82,643 for Mr Gallagher and 80,093 for Mr Higgins. Mr Ganley polled 67,638 number one votes.

Ms Harkin initially proved a strong beneficiary of transfers from eliminated candidates.

She earned 9,623 transfers from Labour's Susan O'Keefe.

Ms Harkin also took the largest portion of transfers from the five Independent candidates who were excluded after the first count.

She slipped into third place after the fifth count but transfers from the excluded Sinn Féin candidate in the final count pushed her back into first place.

Meanwhile, Mr Gallagher got 24,908 transfers from Senator Paschal Mooney, who was also running on the Fianna Fáil ticket.

Mr Gallagher also got 8,308 transfers from Sinn Féin.

Mr Higgins benefitted from a larger-than-expected transfer of 24,536 votes from his running mate Senator Joe O'Reilly, which edged him into the lead temporarily on the fourth count. He subsequently got 6,375 Sinn Féin transfers.

Mr Ganley got 8,572 transfers from Sinn Féin.

The Sinn Féin candidate, Padraig MacLochlainn, was excluded after the fifth count at 1.35am with 54,737 votes, after polling 45,515 first preferences.

Fianna Fáil's Paschal Mooney was eliminated on the fourth count shortly before midnight on Monday, with 47,702 votes of which 42,985 were first preferences.

The Cavan/Monaghan Senator Joe O'Reilly, of Fine Gael, was excluded after the third count with 42,350 votes, having polled 37,564 number ones.

Susan O¿Keefe of Labour was eliminated after the second count. The Sligo-based journalist's first preference vote was 28,708 and she finished with 31,176 votes.

Of the five Independents eliminated after the first count, Michael McNamara polled well in Clare with 12,744 first preferences.

Fiachra O'Luain polled 6,510 following a recheck of votes, prompted by Mr Ganley's request that the returning officer check an "eyewitness" report that "a bin of Ganley votes" had been mistakenly allocated to another candidate.

Ironically, count centre staff found that 3,000 votes belonging to Mr O'Luain had been bundled with votes belonging to Mr Ganley by mistake. The Libertas leader's official first preference vote was then reduced by 3,000, having been announced as 70,638 on Sunday.

The other eliminated Independents were John Francis Higgins (with 3,030 first preferences), Noel McCullagh (1,940) and Thomas King (1,124).

The total poll in the North West constituency was 510,982 from an electorate of 805,626. Spoiled votes numbering 15,675 left the valid poll at 495,307.

No candidate in the 11-county constituency reached the quota of 123,815.

The success of Mr Gallagher in the European elections will prompt a byelection in his Dail constituency of Donegal South West.

Mr Gallagher entered the contest recently after outgoing MEP Sean O Neachtain decided to stand down.