Walsh takes European seat after four days of counting

Fine Gael's Maria Walsh celebrates with her parents after being elected a member of the European Parliament. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Fine Gael's Maria Walsh celebrates with her parents after being elected a member of the European Parliament. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Shortly before 8.30pm on Wednesday evening, after four days of counting, Shrule's Maria Walsh was elected as an MEP for Midlands-Northwest in the European Parliament.

The Fine Gael MEP was joined in being declared elected by Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carty, completing the four-strong Midlands-Northwest delegation after Fine Gel MEP Mairead McGuinness was elected, beating the quota on Monday afternoon on the first count.

Giving her acceptance speech, Walsh said: "It was a case of, we have a job to do and to get our message out - that the passion and the opportunity and the possibility that can happen in rural Ireland can happen, there is life beyond the M50 in the Midlands North West, in particular the west and north-west the area I was educated in, I was brought up in and I am so bloody passionate about.

"I am deeply honoured to go to work, we have five years to make sure rural Ireland, the big towns, the small villages, the most rural isolated, those that are living away from home and want to return - that there is opportunity, there is possibility and we are going to prove that and make sure that the European Parliament is there to represent you and I am here to represent the Midlands-Nortwest."

She added: "I am unbelievably honoured to be a girl from Shrule and the fact that we have an MEP, someone that understands that moving home, moving back to the land she was educated in, the land that gave her so many chapters and stories, that she represented on stage at an international level, can now be represented in the European Parliament."

Walsh secured 64,500 first preference votes on the first count, by the 13th and final count she had increased that vote to 107,198 to get elected without reaching the quota. From the first count it looked like Walsh was going to take a seat, but there was a long few days of counting before she was finally elected alongside Flanagan and Carty, with independent Peter Casey finishing fifth in the poll 20,100 behind fourth placed Carty.

On Friday night after polling had closed, Achill native and Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh had been put in with a shout of taking the fourth seat following an exit poll. When the votes were counted she ended up with 51,019 number one votes. She hung in there until the 11th count - being eliminated with 61,957 votes.

For full coverage of the local elections in Mayo see our Talking Politics section from page 28 to 31.



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