The five day long election count in the Midlands and Northwest constituency ended in the early hours of this morning with veteran Fianna Fail veteran MEP Pat the Cope Gallagher conceding defeat to Independent Marian Harkin.
He told Ocean FM he was happy the count was over, as it had been “a gruelling number of days”.
Noting that it was not him but the returning officer Fintan Murphy who had instigated the recheck because of the narrowness of the marging - 0.025 per cent - he said he did not want to prolong matters with a recount.
“I decided it would be totally unfair to delay the process. I told the returning officer that I was more than happy with the meticulous and painstaking way that they carried out not just the initial count but the recheck. I couldn’t see any major change that would close the gap of 275 votes.”
Commenting on his party’s decision to run two candidates, a strategy he has already spoken out againt, he said. “I’ve no regrets because I did make it clear to the hierarchy and, in particular, to the leader that the two candidate strategy was a dangerous one, that it was playing with fire. It wasn’t a question of me being the only candidate, it was a question of selecting a candidate to run, and to have sufficient votes on the first count to secure the seat.”
Paying tribute to his wife, Mr Gallagher said: “The one winner in all of this is my wife Anne who has been by my side all of these years. Perhaps it’s a good result for her.”
With regard to the future for the region, he remarked: “Today I’m thinking of the border counties, the peace process, the Interntional Fund for Ireland. I’m thinking of the small farmers, the small fishermen. I would hope now that the four MEPs who were elected will ensure that the interests of these people and the interests of the communities in the region will be looked after.”
Asked about what the future holds for him, he said it was “much, much too early” to consider. “I haven’t even thought about it. I’m healthy and I still think I’ve something to offer. But the electorate have taken their decision. It’s a matter of waiting and seeing what develops over the next few years.”