European Election 2019

Mary Lou McDonald says Sinn Féin will concede if defeat in European election recount likely

Mary Lou McDonald said Sinn Féin would concede defeat in the Ireland South European election recount if it became apparent the party was on course to lose the seat. Picture Brian Lawless/PA Wire

SINN Féin will concede defeat in a European election recount if it becomes clear that its candidate is not on course to win the seat, Mary Lou McDonald has said.

The party has asked for votes to be recounted in the Republic's South constituency after Liadh Ní Riada was eliminated on Wednesday night.

The former presidential candidate requested a re-check and recount when just 327 votes separated her and the Green Party's Grace O'Sullivan on the 18th count.

The process, which will see all 755,000 ballots recounted, is expected to take up 28 days and could cost as much as €1 million.

It also means the constituency may be left without representation in Europe for more than a month.

A re-check on Thursday of Ms Ní Riada and Ms O'Sullivan's 200,000 ballot papers changed the outcome by just one vote.

Sinn Féin's director of elections Jonathan O'Brien defended the party's decision to call for the recount, saying he estimated that only 2 per cent of all the ballots had been checked.

Ms O'Sullivan's election agent Ed Davitt said he did not believe the recount would deliver a different result.

Fine Gael's Sean Kelly and Fianna Fail's Billy Kelleher took the first two seats in the five-seat constituency earlier in the week.

Independents 4 Change candidate Mick Wallace looked set to take the third seat with 112,441 votes.

The race for the fourth seat and fifth – the so-called Brexit seat – has been tight throughout the count.

Following the 18th count, Fine Gael's incumbent MEP Deidre Clune was in fourth place with 101,012 votes and Ms O'Sullivan was in the running for the fifth seat on 98,706. Ms Ní Riada followed closely behind on 98,379.

The fifth seat cannot be taken up until the UK leaves the EU.

Mrs McDonald yesterday told RTÉ that if it became apparent that Sinn Féin's candidate was on course to lose the seat then the party would concede.

"The recount begins and obviously you take stock as the process unfolds," she said.

"And if it becomes apparent that the result isn't going to change, well of course at that stage the count will end."

The Sinn Féin leader did not specify at what stage the party would assess its chances of success.

She said the margin of difference in the European election was the equivalent of five votes in a local election because more than three-quarters of a million people voted.

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European Election 2019

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