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500 votes 'could be the difference' between three candidates fighting for final Ireland South seat

Ireland South is expected to be decided later today.

IT IS SIX days since the Ireland South count began but today, if the stars and counting align, the constituency will know the five candidates it will be sending to Europe.

Sean Kelly was elected on the first count, surpassing the quota of 114,761 with 122,777 votes.

Six tonnes of ballot papers are being counted since 9 o’clock this morning, as the finale of the mammoth count looms. 

Billy Kelleher (Fianna Fáil) will be elected into second place at some point today, followed by Michael McNamara (Independent) and then the battle is raging between Kathleen Funchion (Sinn Féin), Mick Wallace (Independents 4 Change) and Cynthia Ní Mhurchú (Fianna Fáil) for the last seat with current MEP Grace O’Sullivan (Green Party) almost certain to miss the final gallop to the finish.

green-party-candidate-grace-osullivan-right-in-conversation-with-fianna-fail-candidate-billy-kelleher-left-at-the-count-centre-as-counting-continues-at-nemo-rangers-gaa-club-in-cork-ireland-in MEP Billy Kelleher (left) and MEP Grace O'Sullivan (right) sharing a joke at the count centre this morning. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Last night Ireland First candidate Derek Blighe was eliminated on the 16th count. His transfers were distributed with gains for all the remaining candidates but Michael McNamara benefited the most with 8,132, while Wallace took 4,764 and Kathleen Funchion close behind with 4,571. 

They are now likely to slug it out for the last seat with Cynthia Ní Murchú from Fianna Fáíl. Informed observers here in the count centre at Nemo Rangers GAA Club believe it will be Grace O’Sullivan who will act as the king or queen maker as she is eliminated. 

John Mullins of Fine Gael was eliminated earlier today on the 17th count.

Incumbent Grace O’Sullivan has said she does not expect to be re-elected, which would be a blow for the Greens as Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe also fell short of re-election.

Donnacha Maguire, who works with Billy Kelleher in the European Parliament, has been here since the count began to crunch the numbers. 

He supports the view that Grace O’Sullivan’s votes will decide the election once and for all some time this evening. 

“I think we are at the business end of the day,” he said. “Billy will be elected on the elimination of John Mullins and his surplus, but the question is how much of a surplus Billy gets and how far over the quota that takes him.

“The second question is how many votes Cynthia Ní Murchú gets from Mullins versus what Mick Wallace gets. So our hope is that there is a direct transfer to Cynthia Ní Murchú which narrows the gap between her and Mick Wallace. 

“So obviously when Billy gets elected his surplus should surely go to Ní Mhurchú because of a pro-Government, middle of the road-type vote,” he said. 

The number crunchers are running the odds; however no-one, including Maguire, is being definitive on what will happen at the death. 

“Ní Murchú getting a seat depends on Grace O’Sullivan’s vote and that is the unknown. Grace is a Government MEP from the south east but Mick and Kathleen [Funchion] are also from south east. The feeling is there’s a slight bias towards Cynthia Ní Murchú based on the last five years in Government.

“It is going to be tight, I wouldn’t rule out checking results after the fact – it could be down to 500 votes in the end,” he said.

Ní Murchú yesterday, quoting from internal Fianna Fáil polling, said that she is “transfer friendly”. 

Either way today’s events are predicted to come to an end sometime this evening. 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work are the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

 

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