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IrelandFormer GAA President Sean Kelly re-elected to European Parliament

18:10  28 may  2019
18:10  28 may  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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FORMER Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Billy Kelleher was elected to the European Parliament for Ireland South with a massive vote transfer from his running Outgoing Fine Gael MEP and former GAA President Sean Kelly had topped the poll and was elected on the ninth count on Tuesday.

Former GAA President Sean Kelly re-elected to European Parliament Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly comfortably topped the first count (Michelle Devane/PA)

OUTGOING Fine Gael MEP and former GAA President Sean Kelly was re-elected to the European Parliament on the ninth count in Ireland South.

The Kerry politician had topped the poll with 118,444 votes - but had to wait almost 24 hours and nine counts to secure the extra 1,422 ballots needed to reach the quota.

He fell just 151 votes short of the quota on the eighth count but was elected with 17 votes to spare on the ninth count.

Mr Kelly - who was in the Nemo Rangers GAA count centre in Cork with supporters - said he was "absolutely delighted."

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European Parliament . Search. Please fill this field. Seán KELLY . Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats).

Seán Kelly (born 26 April 1952) is an Irish politician who has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Ireland for the South He served as the 34th President of the Gaelic Athletic Association from 2003 to 2006. He was the first person from County Kerry to hold the office, being

"I fully honoured the party's election strategy, I worked very hard in Europe over the past five years and that makes this day all the more special. I am so grateful to my election team," he said.

Mr Kelly said he was now hoping that his running mate Deirdre Clune MEP would also be returned to Brussels.

Former Fianna Fáil Junior Minister and veteran Cork TD Billy Kelleher is poised to take a European Parliament berth.

He is currently on almost 85,000 votes after the ninth count - having polled second overall in first preference ballots to Mr Kelly.

However, a desperate battle is now underway between five candidates for the final three seats in the sprawling 12 county constituency.

Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune, Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada, Wexford-based Independent TD Mick Wallace, Senator Grace O'Sullivan of the Green Party and Malcolm Byrne of Fianna Fáil and now all face a marathon battle for transfers.

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President ’s website. Secretariat-general. European Parliament . Search. Please fill this field. Seán KELLY . Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats). Member.

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Former GAA President Sean Kelly re-elected to European Parliament Friendly rivals: Candidate Mick Wallace is greeted by Sean Kelly’s wife Juliette at the South Constituency count centre in Nemo, Cork. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Just 17,000 votes separate the five candidates - with the next series of candidate eliminations set to prove critical.

It now appears likely that the fifth and final seat may not be finalised until the early hours of Thursday morning.

Ireland South - which is comprised of a 1.4 million strong electorate - had a total poll of almost 750,000 votes.

The major surprise of the campaign in Ireland South was the remarkable performance of Wexford-based Independent Mick Wallace.

He came third overall in first preferences - and has been polling very well in transfers over the first seven counts.

He is currently just 1,000 votes behind Fianna Fail's Billy Kelleher - and is expected to do very well in transfers from a number of Independents about to be eliminated.

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If he continues to prove so 'transfer friendly', Mr Wallace could potentially secure the second seat.

Mr Wallace said he was buoyed by the support he received.

"My passport is in order for Brussels," he joked.

"It is amazing the level of support I got. They are telling me that it is looking good. If I go to Brussels I guarantee you I will remain a thorn in the side of the Government here. I promise you that."

Senator O'Sullivan acknowledged that Green Party support was not as decisive as first indicated by the exit poll - and she said Mick Wallace's level of support had been understated.

However, she warned it would be "a very, very long wait to see which way the transfers break" with pundits saying she was still firmly in the hunt for an MEP seat.

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Former GAA President Sean Kelly re-elected to European Parliament

Sitting MEP Deirdre Clune faces an uphill battle to defend the Strasbourg berth she defied the odds to win in 2014 when she overtook Health Minister Simon Harris on the tenth count.

"I have been here before and you absolutely do not know what is going to happen. There is a long way to go and I will try to hang in there," she said.

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The president of the GAA is one of the leading figures in civil society in Ireland, as the association has Former presidents of the GAA have a key role within the GAA , sitting on the motions committee which rules if motions to ^ President - elect Brennan promises to proceed with 'considerable caution'.

The European Parliament elects the Commission President . Each European political party put forward a candidate for Commission president and the party which became the biggest in the elections could propose Parliament ’s candidate for the nomination for the Commission leadership.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said he remained "hopeful" that late count transfers and eliminations could see the party's two candidates elected.

Councillor Malcolm Byrne polled strongly with 69,166 votes and will be vying for the final two seats.

Sinn Fein's Liadh Ni Riada has now passed the 80,000 vote mark and party officials believe she will be re-elected.

Count staff at the Nemo Rangers GAA complex in Cork have faced a number of challenges with the first count not confirmed until after 7pm on Monday after two days of ballot sorting.

These ranged from the sheer size of the poll - roughly 750,000 votes in the constituency with an electorate of 1.4 million - to the size of the ballot paper itself which has 23 candidates.

The ballot paper is almost 60cm long.

Special count boxes had to be brought in because the ballot papers were too long for the normal boxes used in general and local elections.

Handling the oversized ballot papers also delayed count staff.

A further headache for count staff was the almost 40,000 spoiled or disputed ballot papers - a far higher proportion than normal.

Almost 16,000 papers were left blank when put in ballot boxes.

It is the first European Parliament election not contested by former MEP Brian Crowley, who retired on health grounds, since 1994.

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The constituency was expanded since 2014 and now encompasses 12 counties.

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