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Four MEPs left to be elected in final constituency

Five MEPs have lost their seats.

Ireland has elected 10 of 14 MEPs, as counting continued late on Thursday in search of finalised results in Midlands-North-West.

Fianna Fail has improved on its previous European election results, with a further gain possible among the remaining seats.

Fine Gael is on track to pick up two seats in the remaining constituency for a total of four, down one from 2019.

The fifth day of counting also saw three more MEPs lose their place in the parliament.

Billy Kelleher speaks to a member of An Garda Siochana as he awaits election count results
Billy Kelleher speaks to a member of An Garda Siochana as he awaits count results (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Sinn Fein representative Chris MacManus was eliminated from the running in Midlands-North-West, while the Green’s Grace O’Sullivan and independent Mick Wallace were excluded from the running in Ireland South.

They followed the elimination of independent Clare Daly and Green representative Ciaran Cuffe in Dublin, also outgoing MEPs.

In Ireland South, Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher was re-elected as an MEP, calling it a “crowning” moment.

He celebrated with his family, colleagues and Tanaiste Micheal Martin, who said the party was hopeful of clinching a second seat in the South constituency.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan speaking at the TF Royal Theatre count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan speaking at the TF Royal Theatre count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo (Niall Carson/PA)

Independent Michael McNamara, Fianna Fail’s Cynthia Ni Mhurchu and Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion took the final three seats, after Mr Wallace was ruled out.

It means Fianna Fail has held on to its two seats in Europe with the possibility of claiming one more as counting continues in Midlands-North-West.

It is in that constituency that Sinn Fein could also add to its tally of MEPs, after matching its current count with the election of Ms Funchion.

In Midlands-North-West, left-wing independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan was re-elected on the 19th count.

Sean Kelly celebrates with friends, family and supporters after becoming the first MEP to be elected in Ireland’s European elections
Sean Kelly celebrates with friends, family and supporters after becoming the first MEP to be elected in Ireland’s European elections (Jonathan Brady/PA)

As the first MEP to be elected for the region in the days-long count, he made a vow to constituents: “I’m certainly not going to let you down, you’ve been let down too often – you’re not going to be let down by me.”

The lengthy counting of ballot papers continues, with four MEPs left to be elected in the final stages of ballot processing in the 15-county constituency.

Unpredictable transfers, which political commentators said were not following traditional patterns, are adding to the drama of who will claim the final seats.

Sinn Fein's Chris MacManus speaks to the media at TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar
Sinn Fein’s Chris MacManus was eliminated from the running on Thursday morning (Cillian Sherlock/PA)

The top three candidates for the remaining four seats in Midlands-North-West are in a tight grouping going into the last counts.

They are Fine Gael candidates Nina Carberry, a former jockey, and Maria Walsh, who is seeking re-election, followed by Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen.

Mr Cowen is likely to be helped significantly by transfers from his now-eliminated running mate Lisa Chambers despite the party’s campaign in the constituency being marred by infighting.

A close-up of Mick Wallace
Outgoing MEP Mick Wallace (Jonathan Brady/PA)

It leaves Independent Ireland candidate and former RTE correspondent Ciaran Mullooly fighting it out with Sinn Fein representative Michelle Gildernew for the fifth and final seat.

If Ms Gildernew is succesful in reclaiming Mr MacManus’ seat, Sinn Fein will have increased its numbers in the European Parliament.

Sinn Fein candidate Kathleen Funchion in the count centre
Sinn Fein candidate Kathleen Funchion in the count centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

Irish voters headed to the polls last Friday to pick 949 local councillors, 14 MEPs and the country’s first directly elected mayor.

Results emerging from the three elections have been seen as a political boon for coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, while the largest opposition party, Sinn Fein, has initiated a review after performing well below its own expectations.

Michelle Gildernew from Sinn Fein listens to the results at TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar
Michelle Gildernew from Sinn Fein listens to the results at the TF Royal Theatre (Niall Carson/PA)

On Tuesday night, the four MEPs who will represent Dublin in the European Parliament were elected at the end of three days of counting.

Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty, Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews, Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan and Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain all confirmed their places on the continent.

The count saw the elimination of Mr Cuffe and independent incumbent Clare Daly.

Fianna Fail candidate Barry Andrews at the RDS count centre
Fianna Fail candidate Barry Andrews was elected at the RDS count centre (Gareth Chaney/PA)

While the European picture is incomplete, Fianna Fail emerged as the largest party in local government after all seats in Ireland’s local election were filled.

The party won out in the battle for the remaining seats, putting them on a total of 248 seats compared with Fine Gael’s 245.

In the local elections, both main Government parties attracted around 23% of first preference votes, representing a slight drop on their 2019 result.

Lynn Boylan is carried aloft by a crowd with her hands in the air
Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan was elected in Dublin (Gareth Chaney/PA)

Sinn Fein has 102 councillors, an increase on 81 council seats won in 2019, but party leader Mary Lou McDonald has admitted the result fell below their expectations.

The popular vote of 12% is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the main opposition party which emerged from the 2020 general election on 24.5%.

Meanwhile, the Labour party is down one to 56 councillors, the Green Party’s support fell to 26 council seats while the Social Democrats’ share rose to 35.

The number of Independent councillors has also increased.

The results have fuelled speculation that the Government may look to call a general election earlier than the current projected timeline of spring 2025.

Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris with Regina Doherty and a crowd of people
Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach Simon Harris with Regina Doherty (Gareth Chaney/PA)

However, the leaders of all three coalition parties, Taoiseach Simon Harris, Mr Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, have all insisted they remain committed to the government going full term.

For her part, Sinn Fein leader Ms McDonald, who is facing questions over her stewardship of the party, has struck a defiant tone, urging Mr Harris to “bring it on” and call an early election.

With Mr O Riordain a sitting TD, and other TDs in contention for the remaining European seats, there will be a need for at least one by-election in the coming six months.

That has added to speculation that the Government may seek an earlier general election, rather than fighting several potential by-elections only months before the Dail is dissolved.

Elsewhere, in a landmark poll in Limerick for Ireland’s first directly elected mayor, independent candidate John Moran secured victory late on Tuesday afternoon.

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