Further gains for SF; Crowe, O Caolain, Mac Lochlainn elected
Further gains for SF; Crowe, O Caolain, Mac Lochlainn elected

Sinn Fein’s Sean Crowe has returned to the Dail, reversing his painful loss in 2007. Mr Crowe took the third of four seats in Dublin South-West on the sixth count, with the help of transfers from the Socialist Party.

In the national picture, Fine Gael have so far secured 26 seats, Labour 15, Sinn Fein 5, Fianna Fail 5, ULA 3 and Independents 5.

Sinn Fein’s Caoimghin O’Caolain has been elected on the first count and again topped the poll in Cavan/Monaghan. The party is in with a distant chance to secure a second seat in the constituency, with Cavan-based Kathryn Reilly needing thousands of votes in transfers to prevent Fine Gael securing three seats.

Mr O Caolain has asked that the returning officer in Cavan/Monaghan investigate some voting irregularities. Deputy O’Caolain has said a disproportionately high number of unfranked votes, that is votes that were discarded because they were not stamped properly, were first preferences for Sinn Fein.

It is currently predicted by TV pundits that Fine Gael will end up with a total of 76, Labour 36, Fianna Fail 24, Sinn Fein 12, United Left Alliance 4 and Independents 9.

Fine Gael need 83 seats to form a majority. Although almost wiped out in Dublin, a residual Fianna Fail vote continues to return TDs elsewhere and could yet survive to lead the opposition.

There is still speculation that Sinn Fein could reach 14-15 seats, possibly allowing it to form a technical group with ULA and like-minded independents to relegate Fianna Fail to the back benches of the Dail.

In Laois/Offaly, the constituency of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley has secured a breakthrough 8,000 votes to reach third place on the first count and looks to be in a strong position to hold the last of the five seats. Mr Cowen’s brother, Barry, looks set to also take a seat continue the Fianna Fail tradition in the sprawling constituency.

A dramatic count is underway in Meath West, where little-known SF councillor Peader Toibin stormed into second place on the first count and looks set to hang on for one of the three seats in the newly-drawn constituency.

As expected, Sinn Fein’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn has secured a storming victory in Donegal North-East reaching the quota on the third count after topping the poll.

There was further evidence of an incremental transformation in the Irish body politic, when Tanaiste Mary Coughlan was dramatically eliminated in Donegal South-West. Indepedent and former Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Pringle now expected to take her seat.

And after securing just three thousand votes, senior Fianna Fail colleague Mary O’Rourke has seen the end of her political career following her elimination in Longford/Westmeath this evening

Meanwhile, a complete recount has been called in Dun Laoghaire, where People Before Profit (ULA) candidate Richard Boyd-Barret is on the cusp of a dramatically narrow win over Labour’s Ivana Bacik and serving Fianna Fail Minister Mary Hanafin.

Following his stunning poll-topping performace in Louth, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has left open the possibility of supporting a minority Fine Gael government.

He said his party would support the new government when they are engaged in projects in the national interest, but would oppose “tooth and nail” any movement in the “same direction, with the same old policies” as the former government.

He paid tribute to his family and those who had worked with him in his campaign effort.

“It’s a big day for me and my family, because it was a very big political gamble to wrench myself away from west Belfast and I am indebted to the people of west Belfast,” Mr Adams said.

“We went out in this election, we set out our stall very, very clearly. I think the votes across the state show a significant amount of people support the position we have taken up.”

Sinn Fein has been an outspoken opponent of the economic bailout and subsequent heavy budget cuts imposed by the outgoing coalition government.

The Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who visited the Louth count centre to help mark his leader’s victory, said Mr Adams’ decision to run for office in the 26 Counties had been vindicated.

“It’s very heart-warming to be here and see that the people of Louth were able to see through all of that, all those who tried to undermine Gerry Adams’ incredible contribution to peace in Ireland and to politics in Ireland,” Mr McGuinness said.

“To be in a position to be elected in the first count, to top the poll, is an incredible result.”

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