Sinn Fein’s newly returned Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson has spoken of her delight at topping the poll across the north.
Ms Anderson was declared elected after the first count was eventually completed yesterday evening.
The Derry politicians surprised even herself by making the quota first time round, increasing her vote to 159,813 votes, 3,000 more than she needed.
Voting was resuming this morning to decide who will be the other two candidates.
Ms Anderson- one of three SF MEPs elected across Ireland so far- told the Journal:
“I welcome the size of the vote and I believe it shows the support for Sinn Fein’s contribution to the Peace Process and this is a vote for a fairer and more equal society across Ireland.
“It is also an acknowledgement of the work I have done across the north, going back to what I pledged- to bring you to Europe and to bring Europe to you.”
Ms Anderson said she fully intended to honour her commitment to work for everyone, irrespective of whether they voted for her or not, and regardless of background or belief.
She said that her success at the polls formed part of a wider story about the emergence of Sinn Fein as a major political player across Ireland following the local and European elections.
“Across Ireland we have 258 councillors and counting,” she said. “As we speak in my home town in Derry we have a Minister the equivalent of a Taoiseach, we are the largest party in Derry for the first time in its history and the largest party in Derry & Strabane Council, and now we have a representative in Europe.
“We have had a solid performance coming out of this locally, regionally, nationally, and I am very proud of what Derry has done.
“I think the political landscape has changed and changed utterly.”
Ms Anderson added that SF would now be going after the Westminster seat in a bid to secure more devolved powers so people in the north can make their own decisions on issues that affect them.
“In the chamber at Westminster there is total disregard, total disrespect for people here. The government is not voted in by people in the north.
“People who are voting in the north are best placed to make decisions and we intend to send people there to bring power back to us.”
Meanwhile back at King’s Hall in Belfast this morning, the DUP’s Diane Dodds is expected to take the second MEP seat when other unionist transfers are tallied.
She achieved 131,163 first preference votes, about 25,000 short of the quota.
The third seat is still uncertain although predictions are that the UUP’s Jim Nicholson will keep his seat, although Alex Attwood from the SDLP and the TUV’s Jim Allister almost matched his first preference tally.