Counting is underway in the by-election in Donegal South West, with Pearse Doherty on course to win a historic victory for Sinn Fein.
Officials say that between 53% and 55% of voters turned out to cast their vote yesterday.
Counting got underway just after 9am today in the Finn Valley Athletic Centre in Stranorlar.
Early tallies show Doherty, who forced the Dublin government to hold the by-election, has performed very well.
The seat was vacated by Fianna Fail’s Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher in June 2009.
With almost half of the boxes opened, cross-party tallies indicate that Sinn Fein has 38% of the vote, Fine Gael 22%, Fianna Fail 20%, Labour 11%, and the independent Thomas Pringle at 10%.
The tallies are in line with a pre-election opinion poll and, if borne out in the counts, indicate a dramatic shift in the Irish electoral landscape. A final result is expected to be declared by mid-afternoon.
On arriving at the count centre in Stranorlar this morning, Doherty was quietly confident: “The fact that I had to take it to court (means) that having the by-election at all is a victory. We’re looking forward to the outcome, and hopefully by this evening I’ll be elected as TD,” he said.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and party colleague Six-County Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, are expected to visit the count centre during the day.