The three main parties in the 26 Counties have polled the same vote share of just over 22 per cent in today’s general election, according to an exit poll released as polling closed this evening.
If borne out, the results will be a historic result for Sinn Féin, which will achieve by far its best outcome ever in a general election.
The results of the poll are as follows: Fine Gael 22.4 per cent, Sinn Féin 22.3 per cent, Fianna Fáil 22.2 per cent, Green Party 7.9 per cent, Labour 4.6 per cent, the Social Democrats 3.4 per cent, Solidarity/People Before Profit/Rise/Socialist 2.8 per cent and independents/others 14.5 per cent.
In another measure of the transformation, Sinn Féin won the votes of more than 30% of those aged under 24.
While seat projections in this new scenario are difficult, Sinn Féin could hope to win more than 30 seats out of 159. Moreover, their surpluses could help to elect other left-wing or republican candidates in some constituencies.
The three-way tie means that another hung parliament in Dublin is certain. While nothing will be definite until noon tomorrow, when the parties’ tallies from the vote counts start to come in, difficult coalition negotiations are now more than likely, and a second election this year cannot be ruled out.
The result is also a clear public rejection of the anti-Sinn Féin and anti-republican media agenda of the election campaign. It will have repercussions for the entire political establishment, but particularly the state-run media and the conservative press.
As the polls closed, former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams criticised Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and elements of the media for what he said was a “nasty, negative campaign”.
He also uploaded a video of himself singing along with rebel song ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’, a comment on the outgoing right-wing government’s widely-criticised plans to commemorate forces who fought for British rule in Ireland a century ago. The furore last month helped set the stage for Sinn Féin’s successful election.
Remarking on the exit poll, he also wrote: “Well done everyone! Comgheardas [congratulations] Mary Lou and our leadership team. Martin McGuinness would be chuffed. Lean ar aghaigh. (Go ahead).”