Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith has been eliminated from the race to land a seat in European election for the Midlands-North-West constituency. It follows the distribution of the Green Party's Saoirse McHugh's vote in Count 11.
Deputy Smith needed to leapfrog Independent candidate Peter Casey, his next nearest geographical rival to Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy, to stand with any chance to remaining in the hunt for one of the four seats available.
But although the local representative did well from Ms Hugh's transfers, increasing what was then his tally of 64,532 by 4145, it was ultimately not enough.
He was hoping to bridge the 2,000 vote gap between Mr Casey, then at 66,565. The Independant candidate somewhat surprisingly received 3,358 of Ms McHugh's transfers despite his very public dressing down by the Green Party newcomer on televised debated prior to polling day.
Deputy Smith started out with just 7.20% of the overall first preference vote, well behind Ms McHugh and Mr Casey, who in Count 12 will now await the division of Deputy Smith's own transfers before learning his particular fate.
From a base of 42,814 votes, Deputy Smith transferred well throughout the round, even overtaking Ms McHugh. This in no small part was assisted by the significant transfer of votes the local deputy received following the elimination of fellow party candidate Anne Rabbitte. Deputy Smith benefited from over 17,000 odd transfers from his party colleague, who was eliminated before Ms McHugh.
Luke Ming Flanagan (Ind), Mr Carthy and former Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh (FG) now look in an increasingly strong position to secure the remaining seats in Midlands North West at present.
Mr Casey is 12,688 votes behind Ms Walsh, who herself trails Mr Carthy by little under 8,000 votes. What will be disturbing for Mr Carthy personally is his apparent lack of transfers in this Euro election. It's a trend very much evident at local level for his party.
He started off with 77,619 first preference votes (13.05%), and at the time of Deputy Smith's elimination he sat on 91,396.
His own person vote was down on 2014. Then he got 114,727 first preferences, securing the third seat available, scooped 20,319 transfers. At present, the transfer tally stands at just 13,750, with Deputy Smith's votes set to be divided.
Luke Ming Flanagan now sits on 112,760 (14.29%), having started out with 85,034 first preferences, and Ms Walsh is on 96,163, having started out with 64,500 (10.84%).
Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness stormed to victory topping the poll and being elected on the first count with a huge vote of 134,630 (22.63%).
In a statement issued, the newly re-elected MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament, thanked the electorate for the resounding mandate she has received. “I am deeply honoured and humbled by the size of the mandate I have received,” she said, adding: “I feel a great sense of responsibility. I take it as a signal of approval for the work I have put in over the last five years, from agriculture and food, to the environment to my work on Brexit and a whole range of other issues.”
With 66% of 134 ballot boxes opened in the Cavan count centre, as expected, Deputy Smith polled highest, with an estimated 36.76% of the overall tallied vote.
Speaking to The Anglo-Celt from Mayo on Tuesday afternoon, May 28, Deputy Smith was straight speaking in his opinion that the party should have picked and supported a candidate long before he himself received an overwhelming endorsement at convention in Longford in mid-March.
He points out too, without going into too much further detail, that there with his and Deputy Rabbitte's combined initial vote (75,328) that there was significant support there across the constituency to sufficiently back a single candidate.
Deputy Rabbitte was only added to the ticket post-convention, and at the behest of party headquarters, a strategy party leader Michael Martin has in the aftermath of polling day indicated may have been a mistake.
“I said from the word go that needed to be the case. We need to do a proper analysis of what happened, but one thing that was definitely wrong was we had the convention far too late. It was only held in the middle of March and you had strong incumbent MEPs. For a newcomer effectively to try to crack that and win a seat, we needed more than eight weeks to mount a campaign. We should have selected our candidates last December,” Deputy Smith said.
Thankful of the strong vote he got in Cavan and Monaghan, Deputy Smith, while accepting a certain inevitability, held out hope that if transfers fell his way that he still stood a chance to a seat in Brussels.
At the time of speaking to the Celt, he admitted: “I would need luck with regard to other transfers, the order of elimination could count. I will get a very substantial transfer from Anne Rabbitte, but I don't know if it will be sufficient.”
Deputy Smith maintains, if he is not elected, that he'll be ready to contest for a General Election whenever it is called.
In fact, he claimed that some heartland voters were disappointed at the prospect of losing Deputy Smith's representation were he to move his political ambitions to Europe. “There were quite a number of calls to the office from people say, 'we've always supported Brendan over the years but we're glad he'll be staying put'. They might be right!,” he laughed.