Mick's headed off to Europe
As he departed the Cork count centre in the sunshine on Thursday afternoon, Mick Wallace did so relatively safe in the knowledge that he would become only Wexford's second ever MEP and the first since Avril Doyle stepped down ten years ago.
With Sean Kelly and Billy Kelleher already elected in Ireland South, the Wellingtonbridge native was cruising towards the third of five seats when things took a dramatic turn. In the grand scheme of things, there was very little to separate Deirdre Clune, Grace O'Sullivan and Liadh Ní Ríada. Just 327 votes stood between the Green Party candidate in fifth and the Sinn Féin candidate in sixth. It was for this reason that Ní Ríada called for a complete recount, which is to get under way today (Tuesday) and owing to a smaller, skeleton staff, this is expected to take anywhere from two weeks to a month and cost somewhere in the region of €1 million.
From a Wexford point of view, it will also delay Wallace in being officially elected to the European Parliament. However, he's not overly concerned.
'It's hard to credit that it could take that long, but that's the way it is,' the Independents 4 Change TD said on his way back from Cork. 'I'm more or less guaranteed the third seat at this stage anyway. I'd be surprised if anything changes really. The way I see it playing out is that Liadh Ní Ríada will stay in sixth and when her votes are distributed, it will put me well above the quota. Then I would imagine Grace O'Sullivan will end up in the fourth seat with Deirdre Clune in the Brexit seat.'
'It doesn't worry me anyway. I'll be elected either way and that's the main thing. I don't blame Sinn Féin for calling for the recount. That's their democratic right.'
While many people would have had Mick firmly in the mixer for the fourth or fifth seat, few predicted that he would be quite so comfortable, bringing in 81,741 first preference votes.
'I'm bowled over by the support I got out canvassing,' he said. 'Honestly, I didn't think people watched what was going on in the Dáil so much and the kind of work that myself and Clare Daly are doing. It's been really emotional the past couple of weeks and I was surprised that so many people appreciated the work we've done in the past eight years. It's a lovely feeling that people saw me as being a bit different and a straight talking type.'
Obviously, there was considerable support for Mick in his home county. According to his figures, he believes he came out on top in the battle with a familiar foe in Gorey councillor, Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne, who was eliminated on count 16.
'We were doing a bit of tallying and we got great support in Wexford,' he said. 'According to our figures we out-polled Malcolm around six to four. We got great support right across the constituency, but to score those kind of figures in Wexford was a solid base to start from and I'm extremely grateful.'
With the re-count due to start again today, Mick has no intention of hitting the road to Cork again for another while at least.
'No, I'll leave them to it now,' he said.
'I'll probably try to make it down for the end alright, whenever that will be. The Dáil is closed next week, but we're allowed to take our seats until we head off. Nobody can be elected as an MEP until July 2 I think anyway. So in the meantime, I've loads to learn about the processes and I'll have to get out there (Brussels) to suss things out like joining groups and committees and that kind of thing.'