Liadh Ní Riada withdraws request for Ireland South recount and concedes defeat 

Liadh Ní Riada withdraws request for Ireland South recount and concedes defeat 
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

SINN Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has lost her seat after conceding her elimination and withdrawing a request for a full recount of Ireland South ballots.

With the her votes being redistributed as counting continues in Nemo Rangers GAA Club tomorrow morning, her fellow Cork MEP Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael, is now guaranteed to be reelected, but may still end up in the 'cold-storage' fifth seat, awaiting the outcome of Brexit.

Ms Ní Riada was set to be eliminated last Wednesday after the 18th count, but called for a recheck of ballots and then a full recount as just 327 votes separated her and Green Party Senator Grace O'Sullivan.

However, Sinn Féin withdrew the request and conceded this evening after the first stage of the recount saw their first preferences re-examined with Ms O'Sullivan making a net gain of 47.

Speaking after her loss, Ms Ní Riada said she wanted to "warmly congratulate" Ms O'Sullivan on her victory and thanked count staff for their extra work.

“I am happy that the democratic process has delivered the clarity we sought given that the initial difference was so tight.

“We ran a hard fought campaign and we left everything on the pitch. Unfortunately, we came up short this round. I want to express my undying gratitude to my office staff, my campaign team and every member of Sinn Féin and those who voted for me," she added.

She said that she was "incredibly proud" of her term as an MEP.

“I always did my very best to deliver for constituents and to defend Ireland’s interests in the European Parliament. Over the past five years, Sinn Féin’s team of MEPs have stood up for equality, social justice and democracy. I am honoured that I was part of those efforts," she said.

Going into this count, Ms Clune is just 3,000 votes ahead of Ms O'Sullivan, and whoever finishes in fifth will be unable to go to Europe until the UK leaves the EU and its MEPs vacate their seats.

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly and Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher have both been elected already, while Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace may exceed the quota with transfers from Ms Ní Riada, meaning a surplus for him could decide the order of the final two seats.

Speaking from Brussels, Ms Clune said that she was happy to be in the top five, but paid tribute to Ms Ní Riada, her "travelling companion" from Cork to Europe.

"I've lost elections before myself, so I do know what it's like. It's not easy. It's a difficult time for her," she said.

Ms Clune will be back in the count centre for the final results, expected tomorrow, but said that she has no idea how transfers will go.

"Nobody knows. I don't think anybody can predict. The way transfers have gone in this election, they haven't followed expected lines. You couldn't say.

"There's some relief in that there's five left and I'm one of them. This has been a rollercoaster election and rollercoaster count," she said.

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