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Dublin MEP count suspended amid questions over vote transfers

The count will resume at 11am tomorrow.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE COUNT FOR the European elections has hit a stumbling block in the Dublin constituency. 

It has now been suspended until 11am tomorrow, amid questions about what will happen with transfers. Clare Daly TD was one of the candidates seen deep in discussions with the returning officer over the issue.

The discussions are going on over what happens to the vote transfers which would determine who would end up in third and fourth place. It all centres around the fact the fourth seat will not be available until the UK leaves the EU. 

The dispute concerns what happens to the fifth place votes – whether they will be transferred or not. 

As it stands, Ciarán Cuffe and Frances Fitzgerald have been elected in the Dublin constituency. Next is Barry Andrews on 16.38%, followed by Clare Daly on 15.32% and Lynn Boylan on 12.83%. The most recent candidate to be eliminated was Gary Gannon, whose votes are yet to be officially distributed.

Brexit

With four seats up for grabs and five candidates left on the scoreboard in Dublin, it would seem the next step would be to eliminate the fifth candidate and freeze the scoreboard, thus giving the four candidates their mandate to go to Brussels. 

That is in fact the normal process under Irish constitutional law. 

However, while the candidates in the top three positions are certain to go to Europe, the fourth seat was part of the 73 seats which the UK held in the EU when it had planned to leave Europe on 29 March.

When that didn’t happen, the UK had to contest the elections and take the seats until they do leave. 

This means that whoever gets the fourth seat in this constituency wouldn’t be able to take up the role of MEP until the UK exits the EU – which means they don’t get the salary or power that comes with the role. In effect, whoever gets that fourth seat will be waiting around to take it up, during a time when Brexit is being dragged further and further on. 

The outcome of this discussion will be closely watched – not least because it could impact on the result of the Ireland South count, depending on how close it is. Tomorrow morning will see how far these discussions will go. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Clare Daly TD said:

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“It’s the returning officer’s prerogative to suspend the count, he has chosen to do so because I think they want to reassure themselves that the procedures they’re applying are consistent with the decisions they made earlier,” she said.

“It’s unfair to the staff as well who thought they’d get home early but honestly that’s as much as we know.”

- With reporting by Nicky Ryan, Christina Finn, Aoife Barry 

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