May 27th, 2019
There are signs of a changing climate within the political sphere as tallies in both local and European elections confirm big gains for the Greens.
With over 90 per cent of the 949 seats declared as of this morning, the Green Party is on course for the biggest gains since 2014.
The party has shown a robust return in seats, with 47 of its 82 candidates elected so far and taking seats in the likes of Offaly and Longford for the first time.
Speaking to RTE this weekend, newly minted councillor Michael Pidgeon said that the party’s only regret is that it did not run more candidates.
The party’s share of the vote is up four per cent on five years ago, with Sinn Féin taking the biggest hit as support drops by almost six per cent.
European seats up for grabs
The Party may lose up to one-third of its local seats, while Lynn Boylan is struggling in her bid to retain her Dublin seat in the European Parliament.
While the count for the 13 MEP slots continues this morning, Cllr Ciaran Cuffe is set to take a seat in the capital constituency, topping the poll with 63,849 first preferences at the first count yesterday evening.
Cuffe was closely followed by Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald (59,067) and Barry Andrews (51,420) from Fianna Fail.
Clare Daly (42,305) of Independents4Change and Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan (39,387) – both with strong environmental credentials at a national and European level respectively – are vying for the final Brexit-reserve seat.
While Cuffe is certain to take a seat, his overall share in the first count was well short of the predictions in the RTE/TG4 exit poll that gave the Dublin City councillor almost a quarter of the vote.
This does not bode well for Senator Grace O’Sullivan and Saoirse McHugh, the party’s candidates in the South and Midlands North West constituencies.
In the South, Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly is expected to top the poll (16 per cent) and retain his seat, as is Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ni Riada (13 per cent).
O’Sullivan is likely to battle it out with Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher and Fine Gael’s Deidre Clune for one of the final seats.
‘No more lip service’
Speaking to The Green News yesterday, O’Sullivan said that biodiversity loss had influenced the green shift among voters.
“It is the biodiversity loss that is making people concerned, and I think it is also due to the work of all the movements such as Extinction Rebellion and climate strikers,” she said.
Ms O’Sullivan said that she is “hopeful” she will get an opportunity to influence change at an EU level while her “green colleagues” work to implement environmental policies at a local level across the country.
“I think it is time for the governing parties to realise that they cannot pay lip service about the issue of greenhouse gas emission or loss of species anymore,” she said.
Another sitting Fine Gael MEP looks set to top the poll in the Midlands North West, with Mairead McGuinness predicted to bring home over 20 per cent of the vote, followed by Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy on 15 per cent.
While the RTE/TG4 exit poll placed McHugh next with 12 per cent, reporting last night, RTE’s Pat McGrath indicated that Independent Luke Ming Flanagan is likely to gain the second highest number of first preference votes, followed by Carthy and Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh.