Sunday 18 August 2019

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Ní Riada: loss ‘tough to take’

Wednesday, 5th June, 2019 5:05pm

Outgoing Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has admitted she would have to consider any future election run very carefully after losing her seat in Europe this week.

Ms Ní Riada conceded defeat in the Ireland South constituency on Tuesday after her party withdrew its request for a recount.

Four days of counting left just 327 votes between the Ballyvourney resident and the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan in the European elections but Sinn Féin withdrew their request following a day’s recounting of both candidates’ votes in the Nemo Rangers complex.

Counters began redistributing Ms Ní Riada’s 98,379 votes on Wednesday morning, which saw Independents 4 Change’s Mick Wallace take the third seat.

The fourth seat in the constituency went to Ms O’Sullivan while the fifth seat went to Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune who will have to wait until after the UK leaves the EU to take her seat in Brussels.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher had already been elected last week.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Ms Ní Riada, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 2014, said she was disappointed “on a human level” about the result, but also for her seven staff members in Cork and Europe.

“Calling the recount was not just for me, but for my talented team for whom I had to make sure were ok, and that every ‘t’ was crossed and every ‘i’ dotted before I conceded.”

Reflecting on Sinn Féin’s disappointing results in the local and European elections, Ms Ní Riada said it was “not down to any one thing”, but admitted working class people had not felt as empowered to come out and vote.

“We need to make people who are worried about paying rent and having a roof over their heads feel like politics actually makes a difference in their lives. As a party, I think Sinn Féin now needs to regroup, reform and become better from this.”

Following an unsuccessful run as her party’s presidential candidate last year, she admitted a second election setback was “tough to take” and “obviously would have to consider very carefully” before putting her name forward in another election.

“I have gotten great satisfaction from being able to make a difference in politics. I’m especially proud of my work in areas like the protection of Irish fisheries and I hope MEPs will now look to Brexit as the most immediate danger to Ireland and protect us against the effects it might have on us.

“I have absolutely no plan B yet, and I’m looking forward to taking some time to spend with my family. I won’t miss the travel, I can tell you that much. I have children doing both the Junior and Leaving Certs this year, and as every mother and father knows, I’ll be here to support them.”

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