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Count staff sort ballots at Nemo Rangers GAA club in Cork today. Alamy Stock Photo
not tonight

Expecting a first result in Ireland South tonight? It would take 'a miracle'

The count is located in Nemo Rangers sports hall near Douglas village on the southside of Cork City.


MARTIN HARVEY, THE hugely experienced returning officer for Ireland South, said it will be a “miracle” if there is a result from his count centre today. 

The count is located in Nemo Rangers sports hall near Douglas village on the southside of Cork City.   

Harvey said that such is the volume of work needed by the count staff that there will be no result in the European Parliament constituency until tomorrow. 

The Cork city based solicitor and Sheriff, is no stranger to lengthy counts – he was the returning officer for the 20 count epic after Sinn Féin called a recount in 2019.

He spoke to The Journal about how he views the mammoth task ahead. 

“We have 700,000 papers we are counting since we started this morning. These are long, bulky papers with 23 candidates – we had hoped that we might have the first count this evening but that is looking less likely now. 

“We have a large staff of more than 220 people and we hope to utilise that staff today and keep working until tonight at 10 or 11 o’clock.

“At the moment we won’t have a first count result this evening, it will probably be sometime tomorrow morning,” he said. 

Harvey explained that the 2019 European Parliament count was the similar in volume as this count with the same amount of candidates but the delay there was caused by a recount. 

When asked what would you need to get a count this evening?

He responded: “a miracle – it is unlikely”.

“We just want to be careful, you are dealing with people going through the night, you get more tired we want to make sure people are fresh.

“There are an awful lot of papers left in the tea chest we have them stored in and it is unlikely to get through that tonight so we’ll make a pragmatic decision around nine or ten o’clock. If no likelihood of getting a first count result we will call it a day then.

“That is what it is looking like and that is part of the plan. It could be up to Tuesday evening or Wednesday evening,” he concluded. 

Nemo Rangers is the local club of Tánaiste Micheál Martin who lives nearby – his son plays – Martin’s son Micheál Aodh plays as a goalkeeper at the club and has played with the Cork County football team.

This morning, as counting got underway shortly after 9.30am, teams of ladies footballers and teenagers practised on the large pitches across the huge sports complex. 

IMG_8731 Ireland South Returning Officer Martin Harvey. Niall O'Connor / The Journal. Niall O'Connor / The Journal. / The Journal.

The sports hall has a central core of counting staff, with large tables holding bundles of first preferences for each candidate.

Large bins are full with the white papers and there is also a large box containing uncounted papers. 

Meanwhile Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan called to the count centre and said she believes she will not be elected. 

She said that she believes that the cost of living issue has caused people to have “other things on the mind” than Green Party concerns. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin visited the count centre shortly after 7pm this evening and was in bullish form listing out the Cork Fianna Fáil candidates who have been elected. Those councillors included his brother Seán Martin in Cork City Council.

He rounded on the polls conducted ahead of the election. 

“We have exceeded expectations in the local elections, we have exceeded the opinion polls. Since January there have been fifteen polls which had Fianna Fáil averaging at 16.7% and Sinn Féin averaging at 26.6% approximately. 

“Everyone thought Fianna Fáil was going to be coming in a distant third, it’s completely the opposite really in terms of the local elections and we await the outcome of the European elections,” he said.  

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