Juno McEnroe: Three biggest parties must cooperate or face the country again if exit poll holds true

Juno McEnroe: Three biggest parties must cooperate or face the country again if exit poll holds true

The biggest parties will need to cooperate to form some type of government or a second general election could be looming over the country-if the shock exit poll figures are accurate.

The IPSOS MRBI data reveals that there is a three-way tie between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin and barely anything between the major parties.

If the counts on Sunday reflect the poll predictions, both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil could see Dail seat losses, while Sinn Féin, on the other hand, would see huge gains across the country.

Already, the talk is turning to just how a government can be formed with the dead heat, given that no one party could, if the counts are similar, command control of the Dail.

With the predictions for the parties, they would only be in a position to potentially win 35 to 40 Dail seats, although this is much more difficult to predict without transfers available to assess.

However, the figures also show that the smaller parties, even a number of them, would be unlikely to help make up a government with one of the three parties.

The exit poll showed that the Green Party looks set to receive 7.9% while Labour would get 4.6%., the Social Democrats 3.4% and Solidarity-People Before Profit 2.8%.

The Greens will be happy with their increase in support here, which potentially could give them some 13 seats, some ten more than they had in the outgoing Dail. But Labour look in trouble and may only return seven TDs or more likely less than before the election was called.

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, with local councillor Seamas McGrattan, arrives to cast her vote in the Irish General Election at St. Joseph's School in Dublin. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, with local councillor Seamas McGrattan, arrives to cast her vote in the Irish General Election at St. Joseph's School in Dublin. (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Without doubt, the biggest winner from the election, judging on the exit poll, will be Sinn Féin, who could potentially get an extra 10% of the public's support on top of their 13.8% support won in 2016.

Nonetheless, the party only ran 42 candidates in the 39 constituencies and could run into trouble trying to see the voter support translated into actual seat numbers in the Dail.

Other detail from the exit poll released tonight also reveals some of the geographical support for parties.

In Dublin, 22.3% of voters backed Sinn Féin while 21.1% supported Fine Gael and just 14% went with Fianna Fáil. This suggests that Micheál Martin's party may lose out on seat races in the capital.

In Munster, according to the exit poll, Fianna Fáil were at 26%, Fine Gael at 25% while Sinn Féin look set to get 18% of the vote.

More emerging figures tonight also showed that Sinn Fein had increased its support in older age groups and not just with young voters, suggesting that its tactic of promising a reversal of the pension age to 65 may have paid off for the party.

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