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Sean Kelly is hoisted on the arms of his supporters and reaches to shake the hand of Simon Coveney. Niall O'Connor/The Journal.

Ireland's first MEP of 2024 elected as Fine Gael's Séan Kelly returned in Ireland South

It court take four more counts before his fellow sitting MEP, Billy Kelleher of Fianna Fáil, gets through.


THE FIRST COUNT has been announced in Ireland South tonight – and we have our first Irish MEP of 2024. 

Fine Gael’s Séan Kelly – a sitting MEP since 2009 – topped the poll, followed by Billy Kelleher of Fianna Fáil. 

Kelly exceeded the quota of 114,000 by more than 8,000 votes and was deemed to be elected.

The former GAA President was on 122,777 after the first count with Kelleher on 91,074.

After a two-day count Kelly was hoisted on the shoulders of his supporters and reached out to shake hands with director of elections Simon Coveney. 

He was surrounded by family and friends including Juliette, his wife, and several grandchildren. 

When asked how has he worked to top the poll Kelly said that “if I could tell that I could make a fortune”.

“It is a lot of hard work, being genuine with people, looking at the opportunities there for Ireland and working on them and explaining it.

“At the end of the day putting yourself about and having good support behind you of family that you don’t have to worry about so you can go out and do the job, that makes a huge difference,” he said. 

Kelly said that he will get to work on a number of issues now for the next term in the European Parliament. 

“There are a number of things. The green deal has to be implemented, that will need a budget and the derogation for farmers is hugely important so we will work on that. 

“I think also SMEs in small towns will need a lot of help – the tourist industry, especially the VAT system in the food sector, needs to be looked at and above all we need to get a strong budget that will help Ireland to develop and maintain the progress we have made.”

Kelly’s wife Juliette said she was “very proud of Sean” and it “was a privilege to see his success”.

It will now take possibly four more counts before it is Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher’s turn to get the news that he has reached the quota.

That could take until Wednesday.

From there it looks like Independent Michael McNamara will advance and in a surprise Cynthia Ní Murchú is now running in fourth and Mick Wallace is in fifth spot currently.

Here’s how the top of the table currently looks in Ireland South – courtesy of our European count centre.

Ire Sth

Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion is among those also in the battle for the final seat and Grace O’Sullivan of the Greens could come from behind but it will depend on how those left-leaning candidates transfer.

First count results:

  • Derek Blighe (IF): 25,071.
  • Lorna Bogue (RG): 8,788.
  • Graham de Barra (Ind): 4,575.
  • Christopher VS Doyle (Ind): 3,530.
  • Susan Doyle (SD): 20,229.
  • Mary Fitzgibbon (Ind): 6,281.
  • Kathleen Funchion (SF): 50,580.
  • Paul Gavan (SF): 22,392.
  • Niamh Hourigan (Lab): 21,272.
  • Billy Kelleher (FF): 91,074.
  • Sean Kelly (FG):122,777.
  • Ross Lahive (IP): 4,461.
  • Michael Leahy (IFP): 12,259.
  • Una McGurk (Ind): 6,387.
  • Michael McNamara (Ind): 56,339.
  • John Mullins (FG): 33,281.
  • Patrick Murphy (Aon): 14,124.
  • Cynthia Ní Mhurchú (FF): 55,209.
  • Ciaran O’Riordan (Ind): 2,477.
  • Grace O’Sullivan (GP): 47,661.
  • Cian Prendiville (PBP): 6,243.
  • Eddie Punch (Ind): 20,751.
  • Mick Wallace (I4C): 52,803.

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