Saoirse McHugh, the Green Party’s surprise package in the European Elections, has pledged to serve out the full five-year term if she is elected.
Exit polls suggest the Greens will take three European seats, with Saoirse McHugh in contention the Midlands North West constituency.
This afternoon, she told Newstalk that she is surprised by the support she has received - but she is not counting her chickens just yet.
“Last night, I couldn't sleep a wink thinking, 'oh I'm definitely going to get this' and then 'oh no I’m not going to get this at all,'" she said.
"So I am just trying to keep a lid on my emotions. I am just trying to enjoy this and not predict [what might happen]."
A wee homemade look at who I am and why I'm running in the EU elections in just over a week! pic.twitter.com/LDjyQ3palr
— Saoirse McHugh (@saoirse_mchugh) May 16, 2019
She said she wants to serve out the full five year term in Strasbourg – even if there was an opportunity to stand for a seat in Dáil somewhere down the line.
“I think Europe is the most effect place to pass really lasting climate action,” she said.
“It is the second largest economy in the world and so our voices there, the decisions made there, have global impacts.”
She said it would be “huge” for the Green Party if the so-called ‘Green Wave’ predicted by the exit polls materialises – with her performance in the west showing that the party has appeal outside of the capital.
If elected, @saoirse_mchugh would be the youngest MEP in the European Parliament. "The youth are mobilising, they're demanding change but they have no vote," she says. "I hope to be the voice of the climate generation." #WantGreenVoteGreen pic.twitter.com/noaBs7MjlG
— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) May 9, 2019
“It shows that people everywhere are concerned about climate action and they are tired of personal guilt – ‘oh I have to have a keep cup or I feel bad about flying,’” she said.
“They know that top-down change is what is needed.
“We are all stuck in these systems and there is only so much feeling bad when you eat meat can do.
“We do need legislative change.”
Early tallies coming in and it's looking like the predicted #GreenWave might hit. You can follow all the action from the RDS and around the country on our Instagram stories - we're @greenparty_ie there too! 📸#wantedgreenvotedgreen pic.twitter.com/vTwnrMZ1V6
— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) May 25, 2019
Ms McHugh only recently joined the party and was relatively unknown before her appearance on an RTÉ election debate last week.
“I suppose it shows exactly what being given a platform can do and how much media access can really shape an election,” she said.
“I have said before if I could knock on every door in the constituency, I could get a seat.
“But getting into everyone’s home that night, I think, was the reason there was a swell in support.”
Counting of results in the local elections and the divorce referendum began at 9.00am.
The European election counts for Ireland's three constituencies will not start until Sunday morning.
A Europe-wide embargo means results cannot be declared until 10.00pm tomorrow night.
with reporting from Barry Whyte in County Mayo