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Liadh Ní Riada: Sinn Féin needs to engage better with voters after poor election performance

Liadh Ní Riada: Sinn Féin needs to engage better with voters after poor election performance

Outgoing Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada said she her party needs to engage better with voters after a disappointing local and European election campaign.

Ms Ní Riada conceded defeat in the Ireland South election yesterday after her party had requested a recount. Party members withdrew this request yesterday evening after counters carefully went through the ballots of Ms Ní Riada and Grace O'Sullivan of the Green Party.

Counting continues today at Nemo Rangers GAA Club, with Mick Wallace expected to be elected early this afternoon when Ms Ní Riada's transfers are counted.

From there, attentions will turn to Deirdre Clune and Ms O'Sullivan, who are vying for the fourth seat in the constituency. Both will be keen to avoid the fifth seat, which only becomes active once Britain leaves the EU.

Speaking at Nemo Rangers GAA club, Ms Ní Riada sent her congratulations to the other candidates and said that they have a stiff challenge ahead to represent Irish interests in the wake of Brexit and other global challenges. She said she has no regrets about pursuing the recount.

"Of course, it has been stressful," she said.

I am glad it has come to an end but it was necessary to do it; we needed it for the MEPs who have been elected and who can go forward with a full mandate but we also needed it to protect the fact that I had seven people working as a good team in Brussels and Cork.

"If there was any possibility of saving their jobs, you would go to the end of the earth to do that, so I am glad that we did that."

Ms Ní Riada said it has been disappointing for her personally but also for the party in general.

"The time for analysis will happen; today is not the day for that," she said.

"We have to find a way to connect with voters better. We had very low turnout in some areas and people are in general disconnected from Europe. That is a challenge that all parties have to face, to engage with voters who have been disillusioned with politics."

She rejected suggestions that Mary Lou Mcdonald could be under pressure as party leader due to the election performance. Ms Ní Riada also said it is "too soon" for her to think about a potential general election run.

"It is very soon to be talking about a general election for someone who has come out of two heavy elections," she said.

Undoubtedly, there will be a general election and we have to motivate people to come out and vote. Where my place is in that, who knows? I have other priorities.

"People will forgive me for taking time out and regrouping with my family; I have exams going on with JuNíor Cert and Leaving Cert so, like all other mammies, that is my priority at the moment."

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