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European election results: Who is still in line for a seat and where will the transfers flow?

Slow race towards European Parliament restarts this morning as counts in Dublin, Midlands-North-West and Ireland South resume

The slow bicycle race towards the European Parliament restarts this morning, when counting resumes in the three constituencies. There’s not a chance the process will be concluded today but by tonight we should have a better idea on at least some of those who will go to Brussels for the next five years as Ireland’s representatives. In Limerick, however, the pace should pick up in the contest to become Ireland’s first directly elected mayor. So what should we look out for in the coming hours?

Dublin

Business was suspended at the RDS last night after 13 counts in the Dublin constituency and things are beginning to get interesting. Barry Andrews (Fianna Fáil) and Regina Doherty (Fine Gael) are way out ahead, though it will take a while for them to reach the quota yet. Next up for elimination is the second Sinn Féin candidate, Daithí Doolan, whose nearly 12,000 votes should give his running mate Lynn Boylan a significant boost. But she needs a very strong transfer from her party colleague to put her ahead of the bunch that are chasing Andrews and Doherty and from which the winners of the last two seats will emerge.

If she can get that strong transfer, she should get far enough ahead of the chasers to give her the third seat. So that’s one thing to watch for; if she doesn’t, there’s no guarantees.

After that, it’s a dogfight. Anti-immigration campaigner Malachy Steenson transferred heavily to Independent Ireland candidate Niall Boylan. He will be hoping to get the same from Aontú’s Aisling Considine, who will be eliminated after Doolan, and has almost 14,000 votes to distribute. That will put him ahead of the chasing pack. But then where does he get the transfers to push him towards the quota?

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It’s hard to see. The remaining candidates are all on the left – Sinéad Gibney (Social Democrats), Bríd Smith (People Before Profit), Clare Daly (Independents4Change), Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party), Aodhán Ó Riordáin (Labour) – and are more likely to transfer to each other than to Niall Boylan. If that happens, he won’t have a path to election. Instead the seat will come down to a battle between – probably Daly, Cuffe and Ó Riordáin – with Niall Boylan’s transfers having the decisive say. Follow Dublin results

Ireland South

There was a triumph for Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly last night when he became the first Irish MEP in the new parliament, winning on the first count in Ireland South. It was a triumph for Kelly but a strategic error for his party; the unbalanced division of the vote means little chance now of a second seat for Fine Gael. Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher will follow Kelly. After that, the scrap for the last three seats will be between a bunch of five chasers: Independent Michael McNamara, Fianna Fáil’s second candidate Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, Independent Mick Wallace, Sinn Féin’s Kathleen Funchion and outgoing Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan, who is not out of the running yet but needs to be extremely fortunate on transfers if she is to stay in the race.

The seats will be decided by the patterns of the transfers. What to watch for? There are maybe between 70,000 and 80,000 votes on the right, and maybe 50,000 non-Sinn Féin votes on the left. Funchion desperately needs votes from her running mate Paul Gavan. Votes from Labour’s Niamh Hourigan and Susan Doyle of the Social Democrats could help O’Sullivan catch and pass out the chasing group. But in such vast constituencies, geography often plays a role in transfers, too. Another thing to watch will be transfers between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – if and when John Mullins, Fine Gael’s second candidate, is eliminated, he could give Ní Mhurchú a decisive boost, taking her ahead of both O’Sullivan and Wallace. Follow Ireland South results

Midlands-North-West

What a scramble. Luke ”Ming” Flanagan leads the race after the third count in Midlands-North-West – but not by much, and he is still more than 30,000 votes off the quota. Still, he’s likely to be elected but not for a while yet. Fine Gael has split its vote evenly between Nina Carberry, a new candidate, and Maria Walsh, the sitting MEP, so while there will be nervous times ahead, both will make it as long as they can keep picking up transfers. Barry Cowen, whose numbers are close to the two Fine Gael women, has the comfort of 75,000 Fianna Fáil votes currently held by his running mates Lisa Chambers and Niall Blaney. A second seat looks to be a stretch for Fianna Fáil here. Instead the final seat looks to be a scrap between Independent Ireland’s Ciaran Mullooly and the lead Sinn Féin candidate Michelle Gildernew. Mullooly has the advantage of maybe 80,000 votes on the right to be distributed in the next bunch of counts, assuming that is he is not caught by Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín. But Gildernew has 30,000 Sinn Féin votes from her running mate Chris MacManus to harvest: can she get most of them? Or do they leak elsewhere? If they do, it could seal her fate. And there is a lot of left-wing votes to be distributed that do not have an obvious home. It’s probably the most unpredictable constituency. Follow Ireland South results.

Limerick Mayor

In contrast to the unpredictability of the Euro counts, Independent candidate John Moran is in a clear lead which he has maintained in each of the counts completed so far. Something substantial would have to change in the patterns of the transfers for Moran’s lead to be dislodged. A double elimination of the Social Democrats’ Elisa O’Donovan and Independent Frankie Daly this morning would see almost 9,500 votes distributed. Unless that shifts the balance between Moran and his nearest rival Independent Helen O’Donnell – and the chasers Dee Ryan of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael’s Daniel Butler and Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan – the odds on a Moran victory will tighten further.

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