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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Christina Finn/

As it happened: Focus turns to the battle for Europe as final council seats fill up

Dublin edges towards first MEP result, Cork and Waterford vote ‘No’ in plebiscite, and reaction to MEP elections in Europe.

LAST UPDATE | May 27th 2019, 10:50 PM

WITH THE DIVORCE referendum, the directly elected mayor plebiscites declared, and with less than 50 local authority positions left to be filled, attention is turning to the European election results – where so far, we have just one of 11 seats filled.

There are two ‘sideline’ (dubbed ‘zombie’ or ‘cold storage’ seats by some) MEP seats that also need to be filled in the event that the UK does actually leave the EU at some point.

We’ll also be bringing you results from the European elections in other EU member states, with a special focus on Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as all the best analysis and reaction to the new state of play on the political field.

Stay tuned…

A quick recap:

  • Plebiscites: Limerick has voted in favour of a directly elected city mayor, while Cork and Waterford have voted against the proposal
  • Local election: There are just a few dozen seats left to be filled. It’s been a good election for Fianna Fáil and the Greens, a so-so election for Fine Gael, and a bad election for Sinn Féin. 
  • European election: Mairéad McGuinness has been elected as Ireland’s first MEP in the Midlands-NorthWest constituency. Dublin is expected to announce Ciarán Cuffe’s election shortly. Ireland South won’t be announcing its first count until 6pm.
  • Elections across Europe: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party has had its worst European election result; French President Emmanuel Macron has been injured by Le Pen’s strong performance, but overall the nationalist, Eurosceptic surge was less than expected, and the Green Wave was greater than forecasted. 

And as for election results in the UK…

All candidates eliminated so far in the Dublin European election will not be able to be reimbursed for election expenses.

The returning officer said that Gemma O’Doherty’s votes, who was just eliminated, may be important for the next candidate to be eliminated to ensure their election expenses can be recouped.

In the North, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson topped the poll with over 126,000 votes, but the DUP’s Diane Dodds was the first to be elected in the region after reaching the quota of 143,112 on the third count.

A fun timeline of what a round of counting looks like, from reporter Nicky Ryan in the RDS: 

As the final seats in local authorities are filled, the battles are more intense. Here’s the incredible situation in Westside for Galway City Council seats. 

Politico have a useful analysis of the results of each European election result country-by-country. Here’s what it says about Ireland’s results, which mentions #swinggate…

“The big story in Ireland is the advance of the Green Party, which turned around a political decimation in 2011 to top the poll in the Dublin constituency in the EU election. Counting was still underway to allocate Ireland’s 11 MEP seats as of Monday midday, slowed by the sheer number of votes that had to be tallied following simultaneous local elections, European elections, a referendum on liberalizing divorce laws and votes on directly elected city mayors.

“Initial results show Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s center-right Fine Gael party has won the most first-preference votes in the European vote with 21%, followed by the Green Party on 18%, the centre-right opposition Fianna Fáil on 14% and the left-wing Sinn Féin on 11%.

“Yet Varadkar had a lackluster election overall with his party disappointing in local elections and the vote overshadowed by a scandal over a personal injury claim of a Fine Gael lawmaker who fell off a swing. Rivals Fianna Fáil were on course to solidify their lead in local councils, while Greens saw historic gains, making advances into rural communities previously viewed as inhospitable for the party and coming within reach of gaining an unprecedented three MEPs.”

A little bit of background into those who count votes on election day #grateful.

Almost all the results in the UK European election are in – with just two seats in Northern Ireland left to be confirmed (these are almost certain to be filled by poll-topper Martina Anderson of Sinn Féin, and Alliance Party’s Naomi Long).

Here’s the BBC’s map of what’s to be the final result in Great Britain. Devastating for the Tory Party.

Tories BBC BBC

We’re at COUNT TEN and we still don’t have a candidate elected (here’s looking at you, exit poll…)

It’s looking like Ciarán Cuffe won’t be officially elected tonight, depending on how long the count goes on for…

As it stands, it’s to end at 10pm – spare a thought for our reporters stationed there, Christina Finn and Nicky Ryan *pray emoji*

And we’re definitely into Tuesday for local election counts. 

Counting will resume in the Bray East local electoral area tomorrow at 10am. 

There are 38 local council seats left to fill.

Hayley here now. I’ll be keeping you up to date on the latest updates for the next while. 

Here’s what’s trending in Ireland at the minute.



More of a focus on football than politics as we move into the evening, it seems. 

We’ve just gotten the 11th count in Dublin for #EP2019. 

Here’s where we stand now: 

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Ciarán Cuffe (GP) – 69,282
  • Frances Fitzgerald (FG) - 61,528
  • Barry Andrews (FF) - 53,980
  • Clare Daly (Ind) - 48,559
  • Lynn Boylan (SF) - 42,873
  • Gary Gannon (SD) - 24,051
  • Alex White (Lab) - 20,905
  • Mark Durkan (FG) - 17,480
  • Gillian Brien (Sol-PBP) - 14,358 (Gillian Brien has been eliminated)

Another councillor has been elected – Social Democrats’ Chris Pender to Kildare County Council.

Fine Gael’s Tracey O’Dwyer has also just secured a seat on Kildare County Council. 

Looking to Northern Ireland, the leader of the Alliance party and MEP candidate Naomi Long, who looks set to win a seat has said her success was evidence of a desire for a people’s vote on Brexit.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Long said Westminister should take heed of the lines on which people are casting their vote in Northern Ireland as well as Scotland and Wales.

“It is very clearly a re-assertion of fact that people of Northern Ireland want to remain as part of the EU,” she said

“I think it is an endorsement of the fact that we have argued very strongly for a people’s vote.

“I would argue very strongly that [Westminister] should be listening to the results of these elections and listening very strongly to what the people have said.”

She also said that Northern Irish voters were moving away from Nationalist and Unionist “trenches” and instead are “voting on the issues”.

Here’s an update following count three for Longford County Council’s Granard area:

And here’s the current state of play after count seven for the Longford area:

Here’s the state of play in percentages after count 11 in Dublin, after Gillian O’Brien was eliminated. Her votes will now be distributed. Still no seat filled.


Some news from Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and Alliance leader Naomi Long have been elected to the European Parliament. 

More councillors.

The first two councillor’s have been elected to Longford’s Ballymahon area – Independent Mark Casey and Fine Gael’s Paul Ross. 

Labour’s Noel Tuohy has also been elected to the Portlaoise area of Laois. 

Here’s a bit of an update on the situation down in Bray, Wicklow: 

All local election first preferences votes have now been counted. 

Here’s where all the parties stand:

Gráinne here again, back taking the reins of the Liveblog, and with some results…

We finally have the European election result from Ireland South:

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly is just over a thousand votes off being re-elected, with 118,444 first preference votes. The quota is 119,866.

Ireland South

Meanwhile, we’re on the 12th count in Dublin and still no one has reached the quota (72,790). Ciarán Cuffe is on 71,255 votes.

The votes of Fine Gael’s Mark Durcan is being distributed now.

It would be nice if one MEP from all EU constituencies were elected tonight. But there is an ounce of doubt that we could be kept waiting.

Lucky Number 13 and all of that…

In the Midlands NorthWest, Mairéad McGuinness’ surplus is distributed but no one has yet reached the quota. Things look good for Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Matt Carthy, and Maria Walsh.

If that’s the final result, three out of the four candidates are incumbent MEPs, with Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh being the new kid on the EU bloc.

A crowd is gathering around the rostrum in the Dublin count centre, as Count 13 is iminent. Cuffe would have to be extremely unlucky not to get over the line this time around.

He seems relaxed enough about his prospects.

Quote of the night:

“We’ve seen a big swing over the weekend – well, we’ve seen many swings over the weekend, and swings can be dangerous things…”

*Cue laughter, before Cuffe gets serious again:

“Particularly for smaller parties because the tide can come in and go out again. But I do think this is a generational shift… There are people who want to see change happening.”

Here’s another happy moment and a local election first: Ireland’s first black female councillor. 

An interesting side-note to the election madness: Eileen Paisley – wife of the late Ian Paisley, founder of the DUP – is comfortable with a united Ireland and says partition was “the wrong division”.

She also told the Belfast Telegraph that she was “aggrieved” that 90 MLAs were still taking a salary and it was not fair on civil servants to be doing the job of elected representatives.

“It is abominable for people to take money for nothing,” she added, “they are not doing the job they were elected to do.”

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews, meanwhile has said that Sinn Féin’s #le2019 loss has been Fianna Fáil’s gain – but adds that his party needs to rebuild trust.

Former Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is expected to be elected on this count – she’s just 344 votes off the quota.

Here’s how things stand – Gary Gannon has been eliminated and Lynn Boylan looks almost certain to lose her MEP seat.

Europe MEP

  More details available of that Count 14 here.

The newly elected Frances Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s The Late Debate that she had seen “a strong vote here” and a strong vote in the Europeans.

She said that this was because of the leadership Fine Gael had shown in Europe.

On the Maurice McCabe-whistleblower controversy over which Fitzgerald was forced to resign as Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, she said: “Yes people had comments to make on that episode, but that’s in the past.”

On the parties losses in the local elections, Fitzgerald said that the swing towards the Greens has impacted on their votes. “We’ve a lot of very good wins, we’ve a lot of new people and women elected.”

“It’s important to be visionary and try to win as many seats as possible – I think we were optimistic about a greater number but we are the largest party across Dublin local councils.”

And of course, on Maria Bailey’s #swinggate.

“It’s always easier to say what should or shouldn’t have been done after the event…

“I’ve been very caught up in the count today,” she said.


There’s a technical argument here over the final seat.

A reminder: There are just three seats available here, with an extra seat if/when the UK leaves the EU (Ireland South is the other area that gets an extra seat). 

If the quota isn’t reached after Gary Gannon’s votes are distributed, does:

  • Lynn Boylan’s votes get distributed, or
  • Does the vote hierarchy as it currently is become the default?


Here’s why this is important – whichever approach could decide the final MEP seat.

Here’s a bit more about those two ‘zombie’/'cold storage’ MEP seats:

“As it stands now, the Irish government has insisted that there will be 13 MEPs, and is planning for as much. Similar to their policy for preparations for a hard border in Ireland in the event of a no-deal, it seems that it’s easier to deal with the probably and come to the worst case scenario if it happens.

“But the Irish government have also said that its two new MEP seats won’t be taken up until the UK leaves – which could take up to a year – which would mean Ireland has elected 13 MEPs, but only 11 take up their seats until the UK leaves the EU.

“But the Irish government have also said that its two new MEP seats won’t be taken up until the UK leaves – which could take up to a year – which would mean Ireland has elected 13 MEPs, but only 11 have taken up their seats until the UK leaves the EU.”

Ciarán Cuffe is on the Claire Byrne Show, and says he’s “shattered”.

“We have to get way beyond the keep-cups,” Cuffe says. 

“This election for me was the climate change election.”


Not a very enjoyable debate for Lynn Boylan. The two candidates who are fighting for the last MEP seat in Dublin, and are trying to use her votes – by including or excluding them – to secure a seat for themselves.

There’s still no white smoke over how the count in Dublin should proceed.

This seems to be the general consensus – the Returning Officer’s hands are tied because of the details given in electoral law. A barrister on Twitter has said that “there’s nothing to it… it’s all in the Act”.

Clare Daly has spoken to reporters about what is going on. When asked what’s happening next, she says “I haven’t a clue” and that the issue arose when “Fianna Fáil swooped in here”.

“I would like the outcome of the election to reflect the way in which the voters of Dublin voted,” Daly tells reporters, adding that she’d be happy to take either seat.

To stress: one seat is a full-time seat that needs to be taken up on 2 July, the other is the ‘cold-storage’ seat that only comes into effect once the UK officially leaves the EU.

Daly herself admits the recipient may never get that seat.

Here’s more detail on that legal debacle in our piece on it here:


….And that’s all from us for tonight. Join us again tomorrow when we’ll solve the mystery of what happens at the Dublin count centre.

Oíche mhaith.

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