European elections: Green MEP’s hopes fade as party rounds on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

Deputy leader warns Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that the climate crisis ‘is way too important to toy around with’ during elections

Catherine Martin calls for 'campaigns to be conducted in the most respectful way possible'. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Green Party’s hopes of salvaging sitting MEP’s Grace O’Sullivan’s seat in Ireland South were fading on Wednesday night, as the smallest of the Coalition parties faced up to an electoral mauling while its bigger partners in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil enjoyed much better election results.

The Greens’ disappointment led to further criticism of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil from Green deputy leader Catherine Martin on Wednesday.

The counts were continuing in Cork and Castlebar last night. While it is hoped that Ireland South could conclude on Thursday, Midlands North West, where Independent Ireland’s Ciaran Mullooly is likely to scrap for the last seat with Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, is expected to continue into Friday.

On Wednesday night, as the counts continued, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan (Independent) retained his commanding lead in Midlands North West, having garnered 89,660 votes after 14 counts. The quota in the constituency stands at 113,325.


Behind Mr Flanagan, former jockey Nina Carberry (Fine Gael) had 78,717 votes after the 14th count, just ahead of her Fine Gael running mate Maria Walsh on 78,204. Barry Cowen (Fianna Fáil) was in fourth place after 14 counts, on 76,545 votes.

Ciaran Mullooly looked to be in the healthiest position to take the fifth and final seat, with 65,619 votes after count 14.

In Ireland South Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher looks set to take the second seat behind poll-topping Seán Kelly of Fine Gael.

The race for the last three seats is a contest between Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion from Kilkenny, Independent Michael McNamara from Clare, Independent4Change candidate Mick Wallace from Wexford and Fianna Fáil’s Cynthia Ní Mhurchú from Carlow.

A final result is likely to be delivered on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Green Party – hurting after the loss of its Dublin seat on Tuesday evening and facing another loss in Ireland South – sought to send a message to its Government partners about criticism of the Greens during the election campaign.

Minister for Arts and Media Catherine Martin warned Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael that the climate crisis “is way too important to toy around with” during elections.

Asked about attacks on her party from other Coalition parties during the campaign Ms Martin, the Green deputy leader, replied: “I can’t control the other political parties and what they might do.

“But what I would say to them very clearly is climate action is too serious. The climate and biodiversity crisis that we are facing is way too important to toy around with. And what we need is all political parties and Independents to take this seriously because it is the issue of our generation and next.”

Earlier she said it was “really important that campaigns are conducted in the most respectful way possible and we have a clear message when it comes to climate action”.

Her remarks come after Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil candidates attacked the Green Party during the European election campaign.

Fine Gael’s candidate in Dublin Regina Doherty accused the Green Party of being “autocratic” during her bid to be elected to the European Parliament, while Fianna Fáil’s Midlands North West candidate Lisa Chambers also took potshots at the party.

Party leader Eamon Ryan said on Monday that he had raised the matter with the other Coalition leaders, Taoiseach Simon Harris and Tánaiste Micheál Martin.

He told RTÉ's Prime Time it was not acceptable that parties in a Coalition “look for their electoral advantage [by] tackling colleagues with accusations” and he disputed the charge that the party was autocratic.

Asked if he had received a guarantee from the other leaders that it wouldn’t happen again, he said: “I think they heard what I said and I’m sure that wouldn’t happen again.”

Other Green politicians sought to focus on the party’s own shortcomings during the campaign. Speaking to RTÉ, Senator Pippa Hackett admitted it had not been a good election for the Green Party, particularly outside of Dublin.

“We need to take a good long look at how we get that message across and engage with people,” she said. “The party has undergone the challenge of being in Government but it has still returned 23 local election candidates, which by any measure is a good result.

“We might be down, but we are certainly not out,” Ms Hackett said.

In Kildare, Fianna Fáil won two of the final three seats in the local election to bring its overall tally to 248, cementing its status as the biggest party in local government after five days of counting. Fine Gael finished with 245 seats.

Labour finished the local election with 56 council seats overall, the Social Democrats won 35, the Greens at 23 seats, People Before Profit Solidarity won 13 and Aontú eight seats. Independents won 186 seats and others won 33.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times