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Elections 2024: ‘I will never be putting up posters again’ – former presidential candidate Peter Casey after losing out in MEP race

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Analysis – Why are running mates outshining incumbent MEPs?

Running mates have outshone incumbent MEPs in the Midlands North West and Ireland South constituencies in a move not many political parties would have seen coming. 

Champion jockey and RTE star Nina Carberry is on over 73,000 first preferences in Midlands North West, which puts her around 2,000 votes ahead of incumbent MEP and running mate Maria Walsh. Carberry faced accusations from opponents, particularly Aontu, that FG was hiding her during the campaign and not letting her on TV or radio debates. FG strategists will now be wondering if doing so would have put her even higher up on the board on the first count. FG is now likely to win two seats in a constituency where it expected one. 

Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, the MP and former Stormont minister, is miles ahead of incumbent and the party’s only MEP, Chris MacManus. Gildernew is on over 45,000 first preferences and MacManus’ 29,000 votes could edge her into the playing field for a seat but unlikely to land one in the end. SF pulled a smart move in running her in the constituency but it is unlikely to have been enough with a disappointing result for the incumbent. 

Fianna Fail’s Cynthia Ní Murchú is the star of Ireland South and well on track to win a second seat for the party there, which also would have not been expected. At 55,000 first preferences, she is almost like FF’s answer to the Duracell Bunny of Simon Harris, leaping around the constituency in recent weeks. This has worked a treat and FF will argue they ran a household name in the former RTE and Eurovision presenter. Incumbent Billy Kelleher will also be comfortably elected with 91,000 first preferences. 

Spin doctors in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are now guessing transfers from one another will elect their second candidates in each respective constituency. John Mullins’ transfers are expected to get Ni Murchu elected while transfers from Lisa Chambers and Niall Blaney may get the second FG candidate elected, likely to be Maria Walsh. 

Meanwhile, it has been overall a disappointing European campaign for the Social Democrats.  Sinead Gibney is currently at 17,000 votes in Dublin and housing lecturer Rory Hearne is over 15,000 in Midlands North West while Susan Doyle brought in over 20,000 first preferences in Ireland South. However, the candidates are likely to be put on good standing to run in the next general election campaign.

Gabija Gataveckaite

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