Full Ireland South recount to go ahead; could cost €1m 

Full Ireland South recount to go ahead; could cost €1m 
Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD pictured at the count centre for Ireland South in Nemo Rangers, Cork.Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

A full recount in Ireland South has been requested by Sinn Féin and could cost up to €1 million and last up to 28 working days.

The recount is set to begin at 9am on Tuesday in Nemo Rangers GAA Club at the request of Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada.

Upon the distribution of Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher's surplus on Wednesday night, she was just 327 behind Green Party Grace O'Sullivan.

A recheck of papers this morning saw Ms Ní Riada gain just one vote after five anomalies were found in the examination of bundles containing approximately 200,000 ballot papers.

As many count staff will no longer be available after this week, returning officer Martin Harvey is estimating that the recount could take up to 28 working days, with less staff and no counts over the weekends.

The cost of the recount has been estimated at approximately €1 million for staff, hall rental, catering, and other expenses.

Speaking at the count centre, Cork North Central Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien defended the decision.

"There was 720,000 votes cast. In order to have full confidence in the process - not just for ourselves but for the people who took the bother to actually go out and vote on the day.

"The only way we can get that is to have a full recount," he said.

In regards to the cost, he said, "I don't put any price on democracy."

Newly elected Green Party city councillor Dan Boyle said that it is "impossible" for the difference to be made up in a recount, but said that his party understood the decision.

"We've had similar situations in the past where we've asked for rechecking of votes but withdrawn once the rechecking has happened because there was no future possibility of changing the result.

He pointed to past recount battles, like the 2002 Cork South Central Dáil election, in which he was elected while Fianna Fáil's John Dennehy and independent Kathy Sinnott fought over the last seat, where extensive recounts and court challenges saw no change in the result.

"It's virtually impossible. In fact, I think it's guaranteed impossible that it will happen here," he said.

The recount means that Fine Gael's Seán Kelly and Mr Kelleher of Fianna Fáil may be unable to take their seats in time for the next European Parliament meeting in early July.

Though they are guaranteed to take seats, they will not be formally declared elected until the recount is finished, which could be after the first meeting.

Independent4Change TD Mick Wallace and Fine Gael TD Deirdre Clune, who were in third and fourth place on the last count, are also left in limbo.

Whoever ends up in the fifth seat, and therefore will have to wait until Brexit to head to Europe, will not be determined until either Ms Ní Riada or Ms O'Sullivan is elected.

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