#Elections2019: 'It's wide open', says Martin as first counts start rolling in


  • Green Wave: Green Party is predicted to win three MEP seats and dozens of council seats including up to 20 in Dublin
  • Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are running neck and neck in Local Elections
  • Divorce referendum looks set to pass with exit polls showing 87% in favour
  • Independent Thomas Welby is the first councillor to be elected, he was elected on the first count in Connemara North

Micheál Martin at the Ireland South constituency and local election count in Nemo Rangers Sports Centre, Cork. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Update 3.50pm: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has suggested Leo Varadkar could be facing a worse local election performance than Enda Kenny.

An exit poll has suggested the two main parties are running neck and neck in support in the Local Elections.

Deputy Martin says it would be wrong to compare the results of this election to a general election.

"There is not an immediate correlation," said Mr Martin.

Who would have thought that Leo Varadkar would preside over a worse Local Election result than Enda Kenny? And that is very much possible.

"It's wide open. That's the lesson. No one can say or declare that they are going to be Taoiseach or anything else like that."

Meanwhile, political parties are assessing the damage of the 'Green Wave' of support shown in the local and European elections.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty says the party is not disappointed by a strong Green Party showing or his own party's performance.

He says Sinn Féin is still in contention for three European parliamentary seats.

This is the first electoral test of Mary Lou McDonald's leadership but Mr Doherty says it is too early to be critical of her campaign approach.

Mr Doherty said that many of the contests are tight with Sinn Féin currently in second place in two European constituencies according to exit polls.

Ballots are sorted at the Ireland South constituency and local election count in Nemo Rangers Sports Centre, Cork. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

'Surprises for all political parties', says FF TD

Update 1.15pm: It has been a disappointing election so far for everyone but the Green Party.

The Green Wave has been particularly strong in Dublin as climate-conscious voters make their voices felt.

Ciaran Cuffe in Dublin is outstripping his rivals by 2 to 1 in some European boxes while Saoirse McHugh and Grace O'Sullivan are on course for seats.

There will be big questions for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Fianna Fáil will not get a seat in Midlands North West having got just 9% of the vote between two candidates.

The Red C exit poll shows Brendan Smith got 0% among 18-24 year olds.

Party leader Micheál Martin has admitted that the party has not found the right formula to be successful in the Midlands Northwest constituency.

"Historically, if you look European polls they vote different to general elections and locals," said Mr Martin.

Fine Gael also look likely to lose Deirdre Clune's seat in Ireland South.

In the local elections, it is a poor showing for the two main parties and Sinn Féin in Dublin.

More support for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the rest of the country but seat losses are likely for both parties.

Fianna Fáil says no party predicted the likely success of the Green Party at both European and local levels.

Fianna Fáil ran TDs Anne Rabbitte and Brendan Smith in the European election in Midlands North West.

The party's Director of Elections, Lisa Chambers, has denied that running two relatively unknown candidates in the constituency has cost them a seat.

Ballots are counted in the European Parliamentary elections and the referendum on Ireland's divorce laws at the RDS in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

"I don't think it's fair to say that our candidates didn't have profile, they do have profile," said Ms Chambers.

"We will be looking at this. Maybe we should have seen it but nobody predicted the Green Party candidates to do as well as they have done.

"There has been a couple of surprises for all political parties coming out of this election."

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett says it doesn't look like a good day for his party.

"A lot of the seats that we are fighting for are going to come down to transfers so it's going to be a long night for a lot of our candidates but I think it's fair to say at this stage that the left, in general, has not done brilliantly well," said Mr Boyd Barrett.

"That seems to be very, very low turnouts in areas where we would have been very strong."

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan speaks to the media at the RDS in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Climate change reform 'is not symbolic', says Eamon Ryan

Update 12.15pm: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said the predicted local and European elections message to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is that climate change reform "is not symbolic" and must be addressed, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Speaking to reporters at the count centre in the RDS in Dublin on Saturday midday, Mr Ryan also said the recent climate change strike action by young people is crucial to the voter trend, and that he believes there is separate a "grey vote going green".

Asked for the message the likely results should give Mr Varadkar, who earlier this month described a climate change emergency declaration in the Dáil as "symbolic", Mr Ryan said:

"This is not symbolic. You can't respond to the type of emergency that has emerged, the loss of bio-diversity, by saying it is symbolic and we'll stick to the current national development plan.

"It has to change. We have 51 national roads and motorways being built, we don't have a single public transport project at the same stage."

Mr Ryan separately said he is open to speaking with all parties about climate change reform, saying "the more the merrier", and that he is not worried about other parties stealing his party's clothes "as we have a 30-40 year head start on this".

Mr Ryan said the only way to adequately address climate change is if the Greens "win the next four or five elections" and that the public "needs all of them [parties] on board".

"We want to do it, we want to be a green island. That's what people were saying in the vote today, I think other people should heed it."

Mr Ryan said the climate change youth protests have been crucial to the expected voter swing towards his party, and that a separate older vote is also turning green.

Asked about his now infamous 50-1 bet on Greens MEP candidate Saoirse McHugh, Mr Ryan said he does not have the betting slip with him as it is "safely" in his office for now.

Fellow Greens TD Catherine Martin earlier joked to the Irish Examiner the party is planning to celebrate with a few drinks on Mr Ryan's potential €2,500 winnings.

Continuing underway in the Nemo Rangers hall in Cork this morning.

Green Wave indicates 'generational change', says Green TD

Update 11.30am: Green TD Catherine Martin says early indications in the local and European elections are that there has been a “generational change” among voters, writes Juno McEnroe.

With polls predicting the Greens could win three MEP seats and as much as dozens of council seats, she said grandparents and parents had shifted their votes on the advice of children.

Early tallies suggest the party could win as many as 20 seats in Dublin while the party is well on track to getting multiples of its current council seat numbers across the country.

One tally in Dun Laoghaire, with 61% of the boxes opened, has the party's Ossian Smyth topping the poll with 19% of the vote, followed by Fianna Fáil's Cormac Devlin on 18%.

Elsewhere, the party could break new ground in Kildare, Leitrim, Athlone and Tipperary.

Ms Martin said the party had managed to “reach into new territory”, by appealing to rural Ireland and the farming community.

"This is important and shows this might be something permanent," she told the Irish Examiner at the RDS in Dublin.

While party leader Eamon Ryan earlier this week said "steady on" when asked by the Irish Examiner if it could win seats in the 30s or 40s, the party now could win even more and possibly even overtake Labour in local authority positions, according to exit polling and early tallies.

In the ward of Pembroke, Dublin, candidate Hazel Chu also looks set o to take a seat while director of elections and Fingal councillor Roderic O'Gorman looks set to to top the poll in his constituency.

Ms Martin added: “During the campaign, grandparents and parents were telling me that they would vote green and some had decided to after children told them to. This is a generational change.”

Earlier, Mr Ryan spoke about the next general election, saying many of the party's potential new councillors would be established and ready to run as general election candidates.

He said the Greens would work in government with almost any party, as long as they did not promote violence.

Climate change emerges as key issue in Local and European elections

Update 11am: Climate change appears to have been the big issue in the local and European elections as the Green Party has made significant gains.

Exit polls suggest the Greens will take three European seats and dramatically increase the number of council seats they hold.

When it comes to the local elections the Greens are set to be the largest party in Dublin based on the Red C exit poll.

Staff emptying the ballot boxes and begin counting the votes in the Local, European elections and the referendum amendment on divorce at the RDS in Dublin this morning. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

They could quadruple their number of seats on Dublin City Council.

Boxes are open at the RDS in the local elections 2019.

Some tallying is underway but it will be hours before the count begins.

Everyone who voted in Dublin yesterday will have been given three ballot papers.

One for the Local Elections, one for the European Elections and one for the referendum on the regulation of divorce.

These ballot papers will have to separated into three piles and transferred to the relevant count centres.

It means counting in the Dublin local elections will not get underway until 5pm this evening at Citywest.

Groups are carrying out a tally however but it's too early to see a trend.

The latest figures from the Red C exit poll shows the Green Wave is being led in Dublin.

It suggests the Green Party will get 18% in Dublin making it the largest party there with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil trailing on 15% and 14%.

Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Simon Harris is insisting the Government is committed to tackling climate change.

He is acknowledging the projected support for the Green Party.

"This is not just an Irish specific issue, it's right across Europe and beyond," said Mr Harris.

"We have more to do in this regard but we need to do it in a way that brings everybody with us."

People in this election are saying 'we want more action on climate change' and the government is listening and the government would contend that we are doing this.

He added that the government would shortly be bringing forward its action plan on climate change.

Mr Harris said that the Green Party has always been a party with integrity.

A different story in the rest of the country where the two main parties are polling in the mid to high 20s in the locals with the Greens in single digits.

Sinn Féin meanwhile is drawing between 11% and 16%.

In the Europeans, it looks like three Green candidates could well be elected.

While sitting MEPs Lynn Boylan, Luke Ming Flanagan and Deirdre Clune are all in scraps to keep their seats in their respective constituencies.

Proper counting has not even begun yet and there is a large margin of error in the exit poll so everything still comes with a slight health warning.

Eamon Ryan welcomes 'green wave' as ballot boxes opened

Update 9.40am: Ballot boxes are being opened across the country around now to begin counting in the local and European elections.

It is going to take a while to separate out the ballots for the locals, Europeans and the divorce referendum as well as plebiscites in Cork, Limerick and Galway.

So we likely will not have any results until this afternoon.

Ballots are counted in the European Parliamentary elections and the referendum on Ireland's divorce laws at the RDS in Dublin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The exit poll suggests a big jump in support for the Green Party with three of their European candidates in contention.

In his first interview after the exit poll predictions, the party's leader, Eamon Ryan, says a 'green wave' in Ireland is reflecting what is happening in other European countries.

"There is a green wave of public consciousness in Ireland and we've been waiting for it for a long time," said Mr Ryan.

"It has been happening throughout Europe with the climate strikes.

"It is those young people standing up and saying 'we have to protect nature, that's our future and the future is being threatened'.

"I think that affected public consciousness."

Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Simon Harris says he is optimistic the party will take four or five seats in the European elections.

"Mark Durkan and Frances Fitzgerald together are polling in the exit polls at 19%," said Mr Harris.

He added that he believes Fine Gael will be transfer-friendly.

"I expect we have a very good chance of a seat in Dublin, I believe Mairead McGuinness will do extremely well in Midlands North West, Maria Walsh is very much in contention, Sean Kelly is leading Ireland South in the exit polls and I really wouldn't rule Deirdre Clune out."

Exit polls show surge of support for Greens as sorting of votes due to get underway

Update 7.15am: The sorting of votes in the European and Local Elections will get underway at 9am this morning.

The European election counts for Ireland's three constituencies will not start until tomorrow morning.

A Europe-wide embargo means results cannot be declared until 10pm tomorrow night.

Counting in the mayoral plebiscites is set to get underway on Monday in the three affected cities - Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

There has been a huge surge in support for the Green Party according to the exit poll for the local and European elections.

It is on course to see a candidate elected in all three European constituencies.

Ciarán Cuffe looks likely to top the poll with 23% of the vote in Dublin.

Meanwhile Saoirse McHugh in Midlands North West and Grace O'Sullivan in Ireland South are well placed to become MEPs.

The Green Party also pulled in 9% of the vote in the local elections according to the exit poll.

There is mixed news for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael is well placed to pick up two potential seats in Midlands North West, but may lose one in Ireland South.

Fianna Fáil's 10-year MEP drought in Dublin looks set to be over with Barry Andrews on course for a seat but they could miss out once again in Midlands North West.

It also looks mixed for Sinn Féin.

Likely to retain all three MEP seats with a lower vote than last time, but polling just 12% in the locals.

All the MEP polling must be taken with a pinch of salt though.

There is little between many candidates and a large 4% margin of error on the exit poll.

The official RTÉ-TG4-Red C exit poll included more than 3,000 people nationwide.

The poll was split into three separate constituencies - Ireland South, Midlands North West and Dublin - in order to capture the likely results to be confirmed over the weekend.

The poll states:

  • The Greens are likely to top the first preference poll in Dublin with Ciaran Cuffe on 23%; be fourth of five seats on first preferences in Ireland South with Grace O'Sullivan on 12%; and be placed third of four seats in Midlands North West with Saoirse McHugh on 12%
  • In Ireland South, Fine Gael's Sean Kelly is expected to top the poll on 16% followed by Sinn Féin's Liadh Ni Riada and Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher on 13% each, Ms O'Sullivan on 12%
  • In Ireland South, 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 Independents4Change Mick Wallace (10%) and Fianna Fáil's Malcolm Byrne (9%)
  • In Midlands North West, Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness is likely to storm home on 23%, followed by Sinn Féin's Matt Carthy on 15%, with Ms McHugh (12%), Independent Luke Ming Flanagan (10%), Fine Gael's Maria Walsh (10%), Independent Peter Casey (7%) and Fianna Fáil's Brendan Smith (6%) fighting for the fourth and final seat
  • and in Dublin, the Greens Ciaran Cuffe is expected to be the shock first preference poll topper on 23%, followed by Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald (14%), with Fianna Fáil's Barry Andrews (12%), Independents4Change Clare Daly (12%), Sinn Féin's Lynn Boylan (10%) and potentially the Social Democrats Gary Gannon (6%) all in contention for the third and fourth seats

The local election projections:

  • Fine Gael 23%
  • Fianna Fáil 23%
  • Other Independents 15%
  • Sinn Féin 12%
  • Greens 9%
  • Labour 6%
  • Social Democrats 3%
  • Solidarity-People Before Profit 2%
  • Independent Alliance 2%
  • Independents4Change 2%
  • Renua 0%
  • Aontú 1%

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