A Sinn Féin MEP candidate has warned the party will be in "trouble" at the next general election unless it learns lessons "very, very quickly" from its local and European elections slump.
Matt Carthy made the prediction after the first count in the Midlands North West constituency on Monday afternoon, saying Dublin candidate Lynn Boylan faces "an uphill battle" and Ireland South's Liadh Ni Riada is polling far lower than planned.
Mr Carthy is in third place after the first count, with Fine Gael's Maria Walsh likely to overtake him when running mate Mairead McGuinness's votes are transferred in the second count.
Speaking to reporters at the Midlands North West European elections count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Mr Carthy said he was disappointed with Sinn Féin and his own below par performance at the ballot box.
Asked if questions need to now be asked about Mary Lou McDonald's future as party leader, he said:
"Well if these results were reflected in a general election then we'd be in trouble, a number of our seats would be in trouble. So, yeah, we need to learn the lessons really quick and what went wrong and how we can fix it.
I can't point to any particular issue that is the reason why [the party has under-performed], so we're going to have to do an awful lot of analysis of the reasons why.
"Listen, this is a team, if I lose this election and I'm hopeful that I won't, but if I do listen I'll take my share of the responsibility because at the end of the day it's the candidates that are up before the people, Mary Lou is just one of our leadership team though.
"All the questions will be asked internally, we'll have a very extensive discussion and analysis of exactly what could be done differently in terms of learning the lessons, because the truth of the matter is Europe's elections are always volatile in many respects. So if we lose out here or in other constituencies the candidates will dust themselves off.
"It's a much more bruising experience for local election candidates I have to say, and I've been with a number of them who have lost their seats.
"Really hard working candidates, really dedicated councillors who have in some cases been around for a long time.
"So they're hurting. They're going to expect those of us in leadership positions to come together and actually mark out in very really terms what went wrong and more importantly how to fix it."
Mr Carthy confirmed he has concerns about his own future as an MEP, adding that colleague Lynn Boylan is facing problems in Dublin and Liadh Ni Riada has under-performed in Ireland South.
Asked if he has been in touch with his MEP party colleagues, he said:
"Just over our WhatsApp group and they're battling for their seats. That's all we know.
"We're seeing in Dublin how the transfers, Lynn has an uphill battle. Anybody looking at the figures from afar (will see that). We haven't even had a first count in Ireland South, so until we have that first count it's very hard to see the lie of the land.
"But I think, and my suspicion is, Liadh is going to be in the same position as myself, it's going to be watching where the transfers go, so it's going to be a long couple of days for us."