Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew loses out on bid to get European Parliament seat

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew has failed in her bid to win a seat in the European Parliament.

The former Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP contested in the Republic of Ireland’s Midlands-North-West constituency.

She missed out in the final seat to former RTE correspondent Ciaran Mullooly as counting concluded in the early hours of Friday morning. Hers was the last to declare.

Sinn Fein had held a seat in the constituency for the past 10 years.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has Ms Gildernew would 'bounce back'.

Party vice president Michelle O’Neill said there “absolutely has to be a role” for Ms Gildernew moving forward, describing her colleague as a “stalwart”.

Speaking in Belfast, Ms McDonald said: “I want to acknowledge Michelle Gildernew for taking on the European challenge. “You haven’t heard the last of her, far from it. “Michelle Gildernew fought an incredible campaign. She was battling right to the very end; she just missed out. “Michelle, as you know, is a formidable woman with an incredible record of public representation and public service. “Be in no doubt that Michelle will feature very strongly within the Sinn Fein team into the future. “I know, because I’ve been talking to her directly, she will bounce back.” The party leader said she was disappointed that Ms Gildernew did not get elected. She added: “I am also conscious that she and her family, in the course of this campaign, endured an unspeakable tragedy in their family.”

Earlier this month, Ms Gildernew’s nephew, Fiachra O Faolain, who was in his 20s, died after getting into difficulty in a lake in Co Tyrone. After Ms Gildernew announced that she would be running in the European election rather than trying to defend her Westminster seat, Sinn Fein instead selected former Royal College of Nursing (RCN) chief Pat Cullen as its candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Ms O’Neill described Ms Gildernew as a “fantastic asset” for Sinn Fein. She added: “I know where Michelle Gildernew will be for the next three weeks, right up until July 4, she will be walking hand in hand with Pat Cullen in Fermanagh and South Tyrone to get Pat elected. “But there absolutely has to be a role for Michelle going forward. She has been a stalwart in that constituency for so long and she will be back in whatever form that will take. “Michelle standing in the Midlands-North-West constituency was both a statement of intent and a statement of ambition. “In life you can choose to stand still or you can try to edge forward. “On this occasion it hasn’t worked out, but that doesn’t mean we won’t come back at it again and again and again.” Counting took over a week to complete in the local and European elections. Fianna Fail doubled its presence in the European Parliament to four, with Fine Gael also on four – down one from its previous showing in 2019. Sinn Fein increased its European representation from one to two, while Labour holds one seat, the Independent Ireland party claimed one and two non-party aligned independents fill the remainder. Five MEPs lost their seats throughout the entire process: Sinn Fein’s Chris MacManus, Greens Grace O’Sullivan and Ciaran Cuffe as well as independents Mick Wallace and Clare Daly. Irish voters headed to the polls last Friday to pick 949 local councillors, 14 MEPs and the country’s first directly elected mayor. Results from the three elections have been seen as a political boon for coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, while the largest opposition party, Sinn Fein, has initiated a review after performing well below its own expectations. Fianna Fail has emerged as the largest party in local government after all seats in Ireland’s local election were filled. In the local elections, both main Government parties attracted around 23% of first preference votes, representing a slight drop on their 2019 result. Fianna Fail had 248 seats on councils, with Fine Gael close behind on 245. Sinn Fein was on 102 while 186 seats were held by independents. Sinn Fein has increased it share of councillors, but party leader Mary Lou McDonald has admitted the result fell below their expectations. The popular vote of 12% is a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the main opposition party which emerged from the 2020 general election on 24.5%. Meanwhile, the Labour party is down one to 56 councillors, the Green Party’s support fell to 26 council seats while the Social Democrats’ share rose to 35. The number of Independent councillors has also increased. Fianna Fail tied with Fine Gael in terms of political representation at the European Parliament, despite the latter ending the elections with one fewer seat. The results have fuelled speculation that the Government may look to call a general election earlier than the current projected timeline of spring 2025. However, the leaders of all three coalition parties, Mr Harris, Mr Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, have all insisted they remain committed to the government going full term. For her part, Sinn Fein leader Ms McDonald, who is facing questions over her stewardship of the party, has struck a defiant tone, urging Mr Harris to “bring it on” and call an early election. With the election of TDs to the European Parliament, there will be a need for several by-elections in the coming six months. That has added to speculation that the Irish Government may seek an earlier general election, rather than fighting several potential by-elections only months before the Dail is dissolved. Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris travelled to Castlebar to congratulate Nina Carberry and Maria Walsh on their expected confirmation as MEPs. Mr Harris said he and other government leaders had not had a discussion on the holding of by-elections and added: “I certainly don’t fear by-elections.” Asked about the fact that Fine Gael will be down by one seat by the end of the election, he said the party will review its strategy. Elsewhere, in a landmark poll in Limerick for Ireland’s first directly elected mayor, independent candidate John Moran secured victory late on Tuesday afternoon.

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