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Billy kelleher, MEP, surveys the count last night at Ireland South. Niall O'Connor/The Journal
Ireland South

Electricity is in the air at Nemo Rangers but we'd be shocked if anyone got elected anytime soon

Billy Kelleher is the closest to the quota of 114,761 – there is a slim chance he will be elected tonight.


IT HAS BEEN four days of counting here in Ireland South and for all present it has felt like glacial progress.

The processing of the votes began in earnest on Saturday with more than 220 civil servants from across County Cork given the mammoth task of working their way through 715,000 people – translating to six tonnes of paper weight.

While the election of Sean Kelly came after two days of counting a second place candidate being declared past the post has not happened. The quota to reach is 114,761.

The bad news for today is that there is no guarantee of an election although Fianna Fáil’s MEP incumbent Billy Kelleher could be successful tonight. 

Martin Harvey, the affable and experienced returning officer, said that the priority is to be as precise as possible. 

In 2019 the European Parliament election resulted in 10 days of counting in Ireland South – that saw a recount by Sinn Fein.

He denied that memory of that marathon is having any effect on the pace of counting staff.

“We are always meticulous recount or not. I don’t think any of these counters would even think about the recount situation.

“Honestly, I think we’d always do a very, very thorough search and check. And every papers checked and double checked, every single cards are completed with 50 votes signed by two people and then checked by supervisors.

“That is the procedure we have used in general elections and in referenda in this election previously, so we’re extremely, extremely careful,” he said. 

Sean Kelly has been elected, it is Billy Kelleher for second place, Michael McNamara is doing very well and will likely take the third seat. 

Then the battle begins for the fourth and final fifth seat with Cynthia Ní Murchú of Fianna Fáil, Kathleen Funchion of Sinn Fein and returning MEP Mick Wallace.

There is a slim chance that Green Party candidate Grace O’Sullivan could rally as the soft left candidates such as Niamh Hourigan of Labour and Susan Doyle of Social Democrats are eliminated. 

The big debate here among the number crunchers and political experts is how will Fine Gael first timer John Mullins’ transfers will behave. There are also questions about how will Derek Blighe of Ireland First will transfer – he is currently resting on more than 33,000 votes as we cross the eleventh count. 

counting-continues-at-nemo-rangers-gaa-club-in-cork-ireland-in-the-european-elections-picture-date-wednesday-june-12-2024 Counting continues at Nemo Rangers GAA club in Cork. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The count centre, located in nemo Rangers GAA Club near Douglas village in the southside Cork City suburbs, is set up inside a large astroturf gymnasium building. 

The floors are covered in rubbery plastic covers and one interesting development is that the air is so charged with static electricity that touching metal and other people causes tiny electrical shocks in some areas.

Speculation among count staff and tallies people in the hall, unconfirmed by scientists, is that, combined with the floor covers, the volume of moving paper is causing static to build up in the air.

Aside from that an army of volunteers are feeding the workers three square meals a day and the bar in the clubhouse is keeping visitors’ spirits up.

Nemo, fresh from a league win this weekend, are continuing to train and an occasional underage player can be seen practising 45s on the pitches outside.   

Meanwhile Grace O’Sullivan, the outgoing Green Party MEP said she is now certain that her time in Brussels is at an end. 

“I’m here with the swansong – you can see it’s definitely slipping away now but I’ve been realistic all the time from the get-go  when the preference votes were being put on the tables and I acknowledged that it was substantially down on my 2019 vote

“I mean being a sitting MEP, there are different reasons for that and we saw a number of others including Mick Wallace who was down on his 2019 vote so I just wasn’t sure how I would manage the transfers and interestingly enough I haven’t been that transfer friendly

“So again in 2019 and that’s my only comparative, I  was extraordinarily transfer friendly  whereas this time I haven’t  – 2019 was the climate campaign and the tide very much came in and the Green Wave was there and now it just feels that momentum has gone,” she said. 

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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