Wexford TD Mick Wallace has been elected as an MEP for Ireland South after transfers from outgoing Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada pushed him well over the quota this afternoon.
Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune is now fighting for the fourth seat, which will allow her to go straight to Brussels but may have to settle for the fifth seat and wait until the UK leaves the EU.
After the 19th count, Mick Wallace had a surplus of 19,674 votes, which are now being redistributed between Ms Clune and Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan.
Ms Ní Riada’s transfers saw Ms O’Sullivan leap ahead of Ms Clune, with just 4,000 votes separating them going into the final count.
This is the second victory for Mr Wallace’s Independents4Change group after Clare Daly was elected in Dublin last week.
However, he was not in Nemo Rangers GAA Club to celebrate after a delayed flight from Italy meant he missed a connecting flight back to Ireland and was believed to be sitting in Gatwick Airport, London, as he was deemed elected.
Earlier in the day, Ms Ní Riada called into the count centre, where she wished the winners well after losing her seat.
“It's disappointing for me personally but it's also disappointing that I've lost such a good team of people that I have working with me in Brussels and Cork. Having said that, I want to congratulate Grace O'Sullivan, and Sean Kelly, Mick Wallace, Billy Kelleher and Deirdre Clune. I hope they will continue the work that we have started and make great inroads in Europe.
“I am concerned that we are at a critical juncture when it comes to European affairs; notwithstanding the climate crisis, Brexit is the biggest issue we face and the most immediate one. I am sure they will be ready to deal with that when they go over but they need to be firm on standing up for Irish interests, such as the fishing industry and other industries that will be impacted by Brexit,” she said.
She also played down suggestions that she could be a Sinn Féin candidate in the next general election.
“It is very soon to be talking about a general election for someone who has come out of two heavy elections. Undoubtedly, there will be a general election and we have to motivate people to come out and vote. As for a GE, that is something that is in the not-so-distant future.
“Where my place is in that, who knows? I have other priorities. People will forgive me for taking time out and regrouping with my family; I have exams going on with Junior Cert and Leaving Cert so, like all other mammies, that is my priority at the moment.
She said that Sinn Féin will have to analyse the result, but that will take time.
“We have to find a way to connect with voters better. We had very low turnout in some areas and people are in general disconnected from Europe. That is a challenge that all parties have to face, to engage with voters who have been disillusioned with politics.
“You have to wonder why working class people don't turn out to vote when they are some of the people being most affected by the policies, such as lack of social services and, I think, people think all politicians are the same, not realising that the change is at the ballot box. It is up to politicians and parties to go out and convince people to vote,” she said.