Elections 2019: Fitzgerald, Cuffe secure MEP seats in Dublin

Former tánaiste is second member of Fine Gael to secure a spot in Europe

Ciaran Cuffe of the Green Party has been elected an MEP at the RDS count centre in Dublin, 72 hours after exit polls predicted he would be successful. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald has been elected as the second MEP to represent the Dublin European constituency on the 14th count.

Green Party candidate Ciarán Cuffe was elected in the in the Dublin European constituency following the 13th count on 73,028 votes earlier on Monday.

Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil) and Clare Daly (Independents 4 Change) remain in a scrap for the third and fourth seats.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael MEP and former GAA president Seán Kelly topped the poll on the first count in Ireland South shortly after 7.30pm on Monday with 118, 444 votes, just shy of the quota of 119,866. See our count results and other updates on Irishtimes.com from Monday as they happened. 

He was followed by Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher on 84,083 and Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace on 81,741. The field was rounded out by Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada on 79,072, Fine Gael Senator Grace O’Sullivan on 75,946, Councillor Malcolm Byrne of Fianna Fáil on 69,166 and sitting Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune on 64,605. Five seats are up for grabs in Ireland South with a fight to the finish expected for the last spot.

Seán Kelly said he was pleased to top the poll particularly given that his party fielded three candidate with Andrew Doyle receiving 38,783 first preference votes.

“I didn’t really expect it. What you have to consider is that we had three Fine Gael candidates,” said Mr Kelly. “ It is the only place where you had three candidates from one party so to head the poll in that circumstance is pretty satisfying alright.”

Candidate Mick Wallace is greeted by Seán Kelly’s wife Juliette pictured at the Ireland South constituency count centre in Nemo, Cork. Phototgraph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Candidate Mick Wallace is greeted by Seán Kelly’s wife Juliette pictured at the Ireland South constituency count centre in Nemo, Cork. Phototgraph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

A casual thorn

Mr Wallace, a TD for Wexford, said he will remain “a thorn in the side” of the Government even if he wins a seat in the European Parliament.

“If I go to Brussels I guarantee you will remain a thorn in the side of the Government here. I promise you that.”

Mr Wallace said he expected to pick up a lot of votes on transfers. “I would expect to do well transfer-wise. I think people across the political spectrum respect the fact that I call a spade a spade and I often say things that people don’t like to hear. I call it as I see it. I think I have garnered respect for that from the people.”

Mr Wallace, who is known for his casual clothing, was asked if he plans to “spruce up” if he ends up winning a seat in the European Parliament. He said that he thought his pink T-shirt and dark pants constituted “spruced up.”

“I thought I was spruced up today. I am spruced up everyday. I generally change my clothes every day and I usually wash.”

First of 13

Fine Gael’s Maireád McGuinness was the first of 13 Irish MEPs to be elected on Monday afternoon. The 59-year-old sitting MEP, first elected to the European Parliament in 2004, received 134,630 first preference votes, exceeding the quota by some 16,000 votes in the four-seater constituency of Midlands North West.

She came in well ahead of Independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who received 85,034 first preference votes, and her running mate Maria Walsh, the former Rose of Tralee, who received 64,500.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy, looking to be returned to Europe for a second five-year term, received 77,619 votes. He was followed by Independent candidate Peter Casey who received 56,650 first preference votes and Green Party newcomer Saoirse McHugh, who received 51,019.

Elsewhere, Limerick has carried proposal to directly elect mayors while both Waterford and Cork have rejected the proposals. The proposal was defeated by just 983 votes in Cork.

Candidate Mick Wallace is greeted by Seán Kelly’s wife Juliette pictured at the Ireland South constituency count centre in Nemo, Cork. Phototgraph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Candidate Mick Wallace is greeted by Seán Kelly’s wife Juliette pictured at the Ireland South constituency count centre in Nemo, Cork. Phototgraph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Winners and losers

In the local elections, there are still almost 40 local seats that remain to be filled.

The Green Party was the big winner having recorded its best ever election results, and Sinn Féin was the big loser of the weekend.

Sinn Féin lost seats on councils all over the country – and was wiped out on some local authorities – in a major reversal of fortunes from the last such elections five years ago.

Party sources were braced to lose as many as 50 seats, from a total of 159 in 2014, with some fearing that its total seat haul could dip below 100.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland it was a disappointing election for his party.

“There’s no doubt about it, this has been a blow to Sinn Féin, that being said, we’re still the third largest party at local government level, we still have representation across the island of Ireland at that level, our people will be dusting themselves down, that’s what we will be doing, dusting ourselves down collectively,” he said.

“We need to look at what went wrong and where, we can see that our vote didn’t come out.

“It’s our job to learn lessons from this election . . . this was a disappointing election from us, we would rather have done a lot better.”

Party leader Eamon Ryan said newly elected Green Party councillors will seek to form alliances with all other parties on local authorities in the coming weeks to agree action on climate change.

As local elections come near the end, Fianna Fáil looks set to strengthen its position as the largest party of local government with an especially strong performance in Dublin, while Fine Gael will only see marginal gains, though the party will have a much better result in the European elections.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the public had sent a “clear message” by electing more Green Party candidates that they want the Government to do “more on climate action”.