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#Elections2019: Mick Wallace emerges as surprise package of Ireland South euro vote

#Elections2019: Mick Wallace emerges as surprise package of Ireland South euro vote
Mick Wallace and Sean Kelly at the Euro Count, in Nemo, Cork. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Independents 4 Change candidate Mick Wallace continues to be the surprise story of the Ireland South vote.

In addition to securing a strong first preference vote, Mr Wallace proved to be extremely friendly to transfers during today's count and is now in a very strong position to secure a seat.

After the first count, he trailed Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher by more than 2,300 votes but in the hours after, he closed the gap. By the 12th count, Mr Wallace picked up almost 3,500 transfers, while Mr Kelleher secured fewer than 2,000.

It was no surprise, then, that Mr Wallace appeared to be quite relaxed in the count centre during a brief visit in the middle of the day. Dressed in a luminous green T-shirt instead of his usual pink, he spent a short time posing with other candidates Sean Kelly and Grace O'Sullivan and also chatting to the public.

In sharp contrast to Mr Wallace, it looks as though the nerves are starting to get to some of the other candidates.

Green Party candidate Grace O'Sullivan believes she is still in with a strong chance of securing a seat in Ireland South but said that a lot of it rests on the elimination of Labour's Sheila Nunan and the destination of the majority of her 23,000 or so transfers.

Ms O'Sullivan was fifth after the first count and remains there having picked up a modest amount of transfers since. She is keeping pace with Liadh Ni Riada but some members of her team acknowledged that the transfers had not been quite as plentiful as they had hoped.

But Ms O'Sullivan said there is a long way to go yet. "It is going to be a long haul," the Waterford native said.

"I am sitting in that fifth position still - the seat of uncertainty. I am aiming for fourth but it is outside of my control. I am hoping that the Labour/Sheila Nunan transfer will be positive and push me ahead of Liadh Ni Riada."

Fine Gael's Deirdre Clune, meanwhile, was trying to remain calm, too. Before the election, it was widely acknowledged that she would face a fight to retain her seat and she found herself 7th after the first count, trailing Malcolm Byrne, as well as Ms O'Sullivan and Ms Ni Riada in what looks to be emerging as a four-way fight for two seats.

But, she noted, there is the small matter of the 40,000 or so votes of party colleague Andrew Doyle, which could be the difference at the end of the race.

"We have been here before," she said.

"In 2014, I was in a similar situation and I slowly started to pull ahead on transfers. In the end, I didn't need Simon Harris's transfers but this time I will need Andrew Doyle's.

"I will wait - and I am happy to wait. There is nothing you can do. Factors like geography and gender will come into it but if there is a Fine Gael vote, I should benefit from that.

"There are a lot of very strong candidates but I increased my vote by 20,000 from last time so I am happy about that."

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