By Juno McEnroe and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Presidential challenger and businessman Peter Casey has left the door open on a future in politics and said he is considering forming a party.
The controversial Dragons's Den investor arrived at Dublin Castle earlier to a wall of media and cameras as exit polls today predict that he will be the runner up in the campaign.
Polling suggests his support surged from just 2% to some 21% in recent days and the Donegal-man is now considering his future after the surprise result.
He denied to reporters today that he had used the "race card" to beef up his support when he criticised Travellers during the campaign.
But Mr Casey insisted that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should apologise for suggesting that he withdraw from the race.
He has demanded Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologise for urging people not to vote for him over his Traveller views.
Mr Casey issued the demand as he suggested Mr Varadkar should sack Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan from his cabinet as both have made similar comments to him in the past.
Speaking to reporters as he arrived at Dublin Castle before the official presidential vote announcements later this afternoon, businessman Mr Casey said he found Mr Varadkar's campaigning against him to be "disgraceful".
Asked about Mr Casey's views on the Travelling community in Brussels nine days ago, Mr Varadkar said voters should not support the candidate and that he hoped Mr Casey would "a very clear message" in the presidential election race result.
"I'm still waiting on the Taoiseach to apologise for telling people not to vote for me, which I think is the first time in history that I'm aware of that a Taoiseach has actually come out against a candidate.
Asked three times if Mr Varadkar should consider sacking Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan from cabinet for their previous comments a number of years ago about the Travelling community, Mr Casey said:
"That's a very good question, and somebody should put that to him. Yeah. That's an excellent question. I think that's a question you should put to him. Again, it's not for me to say what the Taoiseach should do. If he felt the comments are racist then clearly he shouldn't keep them in cabinet."
Asked if he believes Mr Varadkar would be a "hypocrite" for keeping the two Fine Gael ministers in cabinet, Mr Casey added:
"I think that is a question that should be put to the Taoiseach."
Asked about his next step, Mr Casey said he needed to sit down with his wife and make a decision about his future in politics.
A decision would be made this week, he said, claiming that his politics was left-of-centre rather that right-of-centre.
Mr Casey said he was not sure running as an MEP for the European parliament would be the right path for him.
Earlier, Mr Casey told the media that he would consider joining a party or setting up his own.
He declined to say which politicians in power or parties he supported.
He said that the presidential race had revealed a frustration among voters.