European Election 2019

Fine Gael to cover Mark Durkan's European election costs

Fine Gael will cover the cost of former SDLP leader Mark Durkan's European election bid

FINE Gael has confirmed that it will cover the cost of former SDLP leader Mark Durkan's failed bid to become an MEP.

The former Foyle MP, who lost his Westminster seat to Sinn Féin in 2017, contested last month's European election in Dublin as a Fine Gael candidate.

He was one of two candidates from Leo Varadkar's party running in the capital, the other being former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald, who was one of four MEPs elected.

But while Fine Gael clearly believed there was a chance Mr Durkan would secure the fourth seat, which does not become available until the UK leaves the EU, he ultimately ranked eighth in terms of first preference votes and was eliminated on Count 12.

Under European election rules, the former SDLP leader and his party are liable to meet the election expenses after failing to gain a quarter of the quota.

On elimination, Mr Durkan's tally stood at 17,649 in a constituency where the quota was 72,790.

A Fine Gael spokesman confirmed that the party will cover the cost of Mr Durkan's failed foray into European politics.

Meanwhile, Independents4Change's Mick Wallace, the Green Party's Grace O’Sullivan and Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune have been elected as MEPs for Ireland South.

Liadh Ní Riada conceded defeat in Ireland South on Tuesday evening. Picture by Aoife Moore/PA Wire

Fine Gael's Sean Kelly and Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher had already been elected to the first two seats last week.

Mr Wallace took the third seat, while Ms O'Sullivan took the fourth.

The fifth and final seat won by Ms Clune is a so-called Brexit seat that does not become available until the UK leaves the EU.

The count had been delayed after outgoing Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada asked for a recount last week.

It had been speculated that the recount could cost as much as €1m and take up to six weeks.

However, the former presidential candidate conceded defeat on Tuesday, leaving Sinn Féin with one MEP in the Republic.

She said last night the outcome was "obviously disappointing".

Ms Ní Riada said she was now going to take a break and said it was too soon to be talking about standing in a general election having come out off "two quite heavy elections".

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