Marathon election count ends with Deirdre Clune on subs bench; Grace O'Sullivan heading to Europe 

Marathon election count ends with Deirdre Clune on subs bench; Grace O'Sullivan heading to Europe 
Grace O’Sullivan (Green) and Deirdre Clune (FG) shake hands after being elected MEPs at the Euro Count SouthPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

FINE Gael MEP Deirdre Clune has been reelected to the European Parliament but won't be able to take up her seat until the UK leaves the European Union.

The marathon Ireland South count concluded this afternoon with Green Party Senator Grace O'Sullivan leapfrogging Ms Clune and taking the fourth seat ahead of her, topping off a hugely successful election for the Green Party.

The fifth seat was added to Ireland South after Brexit as some of the UK's soon to be vacant seats were redistributed to smaller countries.

However, the delay to Brexit means Ms Clune may not be able to take up her seat until the current deadline for Brexit, October 31.

They join Fine Gael's Seán Kelly MEP, Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher, who were deemed elected last week, and Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace, who was elected earlier in the afternoon.

Speaking just after the final declaration, Ms Clune was stoic about her position, saying that she was still happy to be in the final five.

"It is a bittersweet moment; we were asked to elect five people in Ireland South and I am delighted to be one of those five people. It was a very crowded field, very difficult election, with lots of challenges but I am very proud to be elected again.

"Elections are always emotional. I am tired, I have been through a rollercoaster, waking at 4am wondering if transfers were going to come.

She said she will remain active in politics in the coming months, communicating with her colleagues in Europe so that she is ready to hit the ground running when she can take up her seat.

However, she said that the situation has not changed her opinion on Brexit, and she would prefer if the UK remained, even if it did cost her the seat.

"I will be keeping a very active eye on it," she said.

"I don't want to see Brexit happen at all but, I think, it is going to happen, unfortunately. I can't see it changing, they are going to go."

"Europe matters and it matters more than ever now that we are facing into the next few years, the relationship that this country will have with the UK and the relationship the UK will have with Europe," she said.

New MEP Ms O'Sullivan said that it is a "privilege" to be elected.

"I have the fourth seat, the working seat, and I am going to Europe. I am going to work very hard on climate action.

"I give my commitment that I will not waste one moment, I will work as hard as I can for Ireland South and for all the people who had the confidence to give me the vote," she said.

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