Irish Republican News · October 28, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Higgins is President-elect as rivals concede
Higgins is President-elect as rivals concede
michaeldvictor.jpg

Labour Party candidate Michael D Higgins is now certain to be inaugurated the ninth 26-County President and will be declared elected later tonight, when the results of the final election count are revealed in Dublin Castle.

With confirmed counts coming in from a number of constituencies, his rivals began conceding defeat and congratulating him on his victory.

It is estimated that across the State, Higgins received some 40% of the first preference vote, while Independent Sean Gallagher is expected to finish second with a total vote in the mid-20s, and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness in third position with about 15% of the vote.

The other candidates are likely to lose their deposits. Estimates, still based largely on tallies, put Senator David Norris at about 9%, Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell at 6%, Mary Davis 3%, and Dana Rosemary Scallon at 2%.

Senator David Norris conceded defeat this morning and became the first to congratulate Mr Higgins on becoming the next president.

In the last hour, his main rival, Sean Gallagher, phoned Mr Higgins to congratulate him on his victory. He said Michael D Higgins “will have my full support as president and I sincerely thank him for a positive campaign”.

Earlier this afternoon Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin congratulated Mr Higgins saying it is an “exceptionally proud day” for him, his wife Sabina and their family.

Fine Gael’s deputy director of election Frank Flannery acknowledged that its candidate Gay Mitchell, who described himself throughout the campaign as professional politician, was “not what the public was looking for this time around”.

This afternoon, Tanaiste and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said it was “pretty certain” that Mr Higgins will be elected. Congratulating him, the Labour Party leader said Mr Higgins ran a “very positive campaign”.

Mr Gilmore said RTE’s Frontline programme on Monday night, when Martin McGuinness revealed the extent of Gallagher’s ties to the Fianna Fail organisation, had a “huge bearing” on the outcome. He also said Mr Higgins “didn’t engage in any name calling and ran a campaign that was based on ideas”.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said Martin McGuinness had achieved a “remarkable” vote and his entry into the race had changed the debate. “We have narrowed the gap between north and south,” he said, describing Martin McGuinness as “a trailblazer”.

He congratulated President-elect Higgins and said he would make “a fine president”. He said he hopes he will take on some of the issues Sinn Fein raised in the campaign, including votes for all Irish passport holders and Irish unity.

According to an official in Dublin Castle, the first count will now be between 7pm and 8pm. Each further count - depending on transfers - will take up to 2 hours. The final result is expected to be announced by returning officer Riona Ni Fhlanghaile some time after midnight.

Turnout was uneven around the country yesterday, at about 50%, well down on the general election earlier this year.

OTHER VOTES

Meanwhile, officials reported many people had opted not to vote in the two referendums. Voters were also offered ballot papers relating to two referendums on reducing judicial pay, and inquiries by the Dublin parliament.

State-run television have said that it looks (from unofficial ‘tally’ estimates) that the second referendum, on parliamentary inquiries, will be lost, but no further details are available at this time. The referendum counts will not start before the Presidential election result have been finalised tonight, and are likely to begin tomorrow morning.

In the Dublin West by-election, the first count, just declared, shows that the vote of the main governing Fine Gael party has collapsed. Across the sprawling urban constituency of middle and working class communities, the party’s support has halved, its votes falling to all of its rivals.

Its coalition partners, Labour are now favourites to take the seat, formerly held by the late Fianna Fail Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan. However, a strong showing by Fianna Fail, by the Socialist Party and by Sinn Fein’s Paul Donnelly still makes the seat uncertain and the result will be determined by transfers in the second and further counts.

Here is the first count result:

Quota: 17,852 (% and change from the May general election in brackets)

Nulty (Lab) 8,665 (24.3%, +1.6%)
McGuinness (FF) 7,742 (21.7%, +5.1%)
Coppinger (Socialist) 7,542 (21.1%, +2.1%)
Loftus (FG) 5,263 (14.7%, -12.6%)
Donnelly (SF) 3,173 (8.9%, +2.8%)

© 2011 Irish Republican News