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Rechecks and recounts in Ireland South as battle continues for final MEP seat

Inside Politics: Angela Kerins wins her case in the Supreme Court against the PAC

Good morning.

It's been a long week. Actually, it's been a long few weeks. But we're nearly there. Last night, the count was completed in the Midlands North West constituency, with Fine Gael taking an extra seat there through the former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, who will accompany poll-topper and party colleague Mairéad McGuinness and the sitting duo of Luke Ming Flanagan and Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy to Brussels.

Dublin is already done. The locals are done. Only Ireland South remains. Seán Kelly is already in. Billy Kelleher was elected yesterday on his running mate Malcolm Byrne's transfers, while they are bumping off one another in the queue behind him. Mick Wallace is almost certainly home, and behind him the three women who are bunched together – Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada, the Greens' Grace O'Sullivan and Fine Gael's great survivor Deirdre Clune, all of them within 2,500 votes of each other where the quota is 120,000.

Clune is always written off in her counts; always she has come back. She was relaxing yesterday, doing a bit of weeding in the garden. “I may have done something in an area that somebody remembers and they give me number five. Who knows? That is what makes it so exciting. I have been here a hundred times before. This is my second European election. Four Dáil elections, two Seanad, two council elections. I am well able to sit it out.”

Such stoicism is commendable, and unusual in an excitable profession. She may have to sit it out for a bit longer; last night Liadh Ni Riada requested a recheck and recount. It begins this morning. Our report is here.

Committees in Rehab

Our lead story in today's newspaper marks a defeat for the Public Accounts Committee and, probably, an end to the sort of bear pit investigations that have proliferated in Dáil committees in recent years. Angela Kerins, the former Rehab CEO, won her case in the Supreme Court against the PAC , who robustly investigated – rather too robustly, it turns out – funding and salaries at the charity in 2014.

From now on, the Oireachtas committee will have to be a lot more polite to their guests. Our report here, with analysis and court reports from our Courts Correspondent Mary Carolan, and an oped from academic Tom Hickey

Swing time

Jennifer Bray reports the latest this morning on swing-gate, for which a better name is surely needed. Following a meeting with the Taoiseach, it was announced that there would be a "review" of the case by a senior counsel, no less, to establish "all the facts". It's not clear what "facts" remain to be uncovered; a dispute over facts has not been one of the features of the controversy thus far. As in the civil case itself, it is culpability – political and otherwise – that is the issue.

Jennifer's story is here.

It would be hard to overestimate the annoyance with the hapless Bailey among her colleagues, both for taking the case in the first place and for her handling of the controversy in recent weeks. Their annoyance congealed into something harsher in the wake of the RTÉ interview earlier this week. But you'd have to stand back and wonder at the lack of loyalty among her colleagues, so eager were they to chuck her over the affair. Politics is a rough game; sometimes your own lot are the roughest of all.

Miriam also weighs in.

Best reads

Our Washington Correspondent Suzanne Lynch reports Robert Mueller has broken his silence on the Trump investigation – and stressed that he did not exonerate the President.

Stephen Collins assesses the elections.

A Belfast court has ruled in favour of two journalists whose home was raided.

We have a strong leader on the morale crisis in the Army.

The row over Alastair Campbell's ejection from the British Labour Party grows.

Playbook

As it happens, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is in town. He met with ICTU general secretary Patricia King yesterday evening and later with his co-religionist Brendan Howlin and other opposition figures. This morning he meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and drops in on President Higgins in the Aras.

Speaking to journalists on the way into ICTU HQ, he suggested he hoped to negotiate a new agreement with EU if and when he becomes prime minister

The Taoiseach will therefore presumably inform him what he informed the actual prime minister and anyone who will listen a million times: the EU will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. Perhaps Corbyn thinks he can change their minds. Jeremy also entered some caveats about a second referendum, which will not endear him to those of a Remainy bent at home.

The Northern talks are assembling again, and Simon Coveney and Karen Bradley are in attendance at Stormont.

Usual questions and weekly votes in the Dáil, while there will be some attention paid to the Foreign Affairs committee which is discussing one of the hot topics of the week – the retention of personnel in the Defence Forces. The Taoiseach himself appears at the working group of committee chairs. Full details here.

So that’s it for today. It’s the anniversary of the first recorded motor car accident in New York when some poor fella was knocked off his bike. So motorists, watch out for the bikes; cyclists, maybe stop at the odd red light. Also the anniversary of poor Joan of Arc being burned at the stake. Maybe Fine Gael should stop some way short of similar treatment for poor Maria Bailey. So try to to avoid either fate. And, as always, have an utterly fruity day.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

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