European elections 2019: Recount of 756,000 votes starts

Image caption Election officials are undertaking a full recount of the 756,000 votes cast in Ireland South

A full recount of the European election ballot papers in the Ireland South constituency in the Republic of Ireland is under way.

Sinn Féin called for the recount after a partial vote re-check placed their candidate 326 votes behind the Green Party.

About 756,000 ballots were lodged in the 12-county constituency vote.

Five candidates will be elected but the fifth will remain in reserve, until the UK leaves the European Union.

Liadh Ní Riada, the outgoing Sinn Féin MEP, hopes to claim that so-called Brexit seat.

Image copyright RTE
Image caption Liadh Ní Riada ran as Sinn Féin's MEP candidate for the Ireland South constituency

Gardaí (Irish police) have been keeping watch around-the-clock since the recount was announced on Thursday.

On Thursday, returning officer Martin Harvey indicated the recount may cost in the region of €1m (£889,325).

It had been feared the recount could take as much as six weeks, but Mr Harvey has now said the procedure could be complete by the weekend following staff changes.

Fine Gael's Seán Kelly and Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher both reached the quota during the initial count, but cannot take their seats in Brussels until the recount is complete.

The independent left wing candidate, Mick Wallace, and Fine Gael's outgoing MEP, Deirdre Clune, were set to take the third and fourth seats.

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