Green Party set to make gains in 26 Counties - exit poll

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An official RTE-TG4-Red C exit poll following today’s 26 County elections at 10pm tonight predicted Sinn Féin is in a battle to hold onto its three seats in the European Parliament, while the Green party is in surprise contention to win up to three seats.

The biggest change in Dublin, where four seats are being contested today, was that Green Party candidate Ciaran Cuffe will take 23% of first preferences. Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald is likely to hold onto her seat at 14%, although much lower than had been previously predicted, while Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews could possibly make a gain with 12%. Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan is on 10% and is in a battle to hold her seat alongside left-wing independent Clare Daly, who is on 12%.

The exit poll has a margin of error of 4%. It did not measure the unpredictable lower-order preferences of eliminated candidates, which will make a difference as votes are transfered in successive counts.

In Ireland South, where five seats were contested today, the exit poll says that Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly is predicted to top the poll on 16%, followed by Sinn Féin’s former Presidential candiate Liadh Ní Riada and Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher on 13% each, while Grace O’Sullivan of the Green Party is looking strong on 12%. Fine Gael’s other sitting constituency MEP Deirdre Clune is at risk of losing her seat, with her 9% of exit poll first preferences putting her in a battle for the final seat with left-wing independent Mick Wallace on 10% and Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne at 9%.

In Midlands/North/West, a four-seater, Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness is on course to be returned at 23% according to the exit poll. The remaining three seats are difficult to predict, but Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy is in a strong position at 15%, with Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh at 12% and incumbent MEP Independent Luke Ming Flanagan at 10%, Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh on 10% and populist Independent Peter Casey at 7%.

According to the survey of first preferences in the local elections, it looks like a tight battle whether Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will come out in top spot, after the poll put both parties neck-and-neck on 23%. The Green Party is set for a significant increase in its local representation, with the poll indicating it reached 9% after reaching only 2% nationally last time out.

Despite a bitter fallout over policy changes last year, Sinn Féin has held onto most of its voters at 12% according to the exit poll, down just 3%. The new pro-life republican party Aontú led by former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibin has reached 1% nationally with a small number of candidates.

Also according to the exit poll, the public voted to adjust the 26 County divorce laws and allow couples to divorce after two years of living apart. The exit poll on the referendum said 87% of people voted for the changes, compared to just 12% who were opposed.

Despite fine weather, turnout appeared well done on 2014. Lengthy ballot papers led to delays at polling stations around the country when people were placing completed ballots into boxes at polling stations. Some voters struggled with 2ft-long ballot paper which had to be folded multiple times before being posted into the slots on ballot boxes.

The following is the exit poll projections for the parties in the local elections (compared to 2014):

Fine Gael 23% (-1%)
Fianna Fáil 23% (-3%)
Sinn Féin 12% (-3%)
Greens 9% (+7%)
Labour 6% (-1%)
Social Democrats 3% (+3%)
Solidarity-People Before Profit 2% (-1%)
Aontú 1% (+1)

The following are the predictions for the European elections by constituency:

MIDLANDS/NORTH/WEST

McGuinness (FG) 25
Carthy (SF) 15
McHugh (GP) 12
Flanagan (Ind) 10
Walsh (FG) 10
Casey (Ind) 7
Smith (FF) 6
Rabbitte (FF) 3
Hannigan (Lab) 3
Others 9

DUBLIN

Cuffe (GP) 23
Fitzgerald (FG) 14
Andrews (FF) 12
Daly (I4C) 12
Boylan (SF) 10
Gannon (SD) 6
Durkan (FG) 5
White (Lab) 5
Higgins (Ind) 3
Others 10

IRELAND SOUTH

Kelly (FG) 16
Ní Riada (SF) 13
Kelleher (FF) 13
O’Sullivan (GP) 12
Wallace (I4C) 10
Byrne (FF) 9
Clune (FG) 9
Doyle (FG) 4
Nunan (Lab) 3
Others 11

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