Northern Ireland

Michelle Gildernew narrowly misses out on European Parliament seat

Despite effectively writing herself off earlier in the week Michelle Gildernew was still in the race up to the final count

Michelle Gildernew from Sinn Fein listens to the results in Castlebar for the Midlands North West constituency in the European elections
Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew at the election count in Castlebar on Thursday. PICTURE: NIALL CARSON/PA (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew has narrowly missed out on a seat in the European Parliament.

The former Stormont agriculture minister, who on Tuesday conceded that she was unlikely to secure one of five seats in the Midlands-North West constituency, fell some 5,500 votes short of nearest rival Ciarán Mullooly, a former RTÉ news reporter who stood as an independent.

Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan topped the poll and was elected on the 20th count.

Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan topped the poll in Midlands North West
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan topped the poll in Midlands-North West. PICTURE: CONOR MCKEOWN/PA

The three remaining seats in the sprawling 15-county constituency went to Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen, along with Maria Walsh and Nina Carberry of Fine Gael.

Ms Gildernew ran alongside Chris McManus, who was the sitting MEP in Midlands-North West for Sinn Féin, which gained two seats elsewhere in the Dublin and South constituencies.

Despite effectively writing herself off earlier in the week, Ms Gildernew was still in the race up to the final count.

However, she did not attend the declaration of the final result in Castlebar, Co Mayo in the early hours of Friday.

The result leaves the Sinn Féin veteran and ard chomhairle member, who served as Stormont agriculture minister between 2007-2011, without an elected role in the party for the first time since 1998.

Nursing union boss Pat Cullen has been selected to contest the Fermanagh-South Tyrone seat where Ms Gildernew is the sitting MP.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald voiced disappointment at the loss of the Midlands-North West seat but said there would be a future role in the party for the former MP.

“Michelle as you know is a formidable woman with an incredible record of public representation and public service,” she said.

“Be no doubt that Michelle will feature very strongly within the Sinn Féin team into the future.”