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Higgins in poll position as Mitchell sees campaign crash

Labour's Michael D Higgins is on course to be the ninth President of Ireland according to tallies so far.

Mr Higgins is now expected to have a commanding lead over Seán Gallagher when a first count result is declared later this evening.

From the minute the boxes opened this morning it started to become clear that Mr Higgins was on course for victory.

In Dublin, he has outpolled Seán Gallagher by at least two to one, but in some parts of the capital it has even been three to one.

It is disastrous news for Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell, this is his base, and even in his Dublin South Central Constituency he is only attracting about one in eight votes.

It is a similar story in other urban areas, with a third of Cork City boxes tallied, Michael D Higgins is on around 44% of the vote, and in Limerick City Michael D Higgins may have secured half of all votes.

There are exceptions, in his native Cavan, Seán Gallagher has about half the votes, compared to just 20% for Michael D Higgins.

But in Seán Gallagher's now home county of Louth, it appears Michael D Higgins will outpoll him with about 35% of the vote.

Martin McGuinness looks set to top the poll in Donegal North East, which is beside his native Derry.

First count results from around the country are expected throughout the afternoon, with a full national first count declaration from here later this evening, around teatime.

And if it looks that a result can be secured at a reasonable hour tonight, counting will continue rather than being suspended to resume tomorrow.

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