Byelections 2019: Sinn Féin's Mark Ward leads but three-horse race in Dublin Mid West

The by-election is to replace Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald who was elected as an MEP in May.

Byelections 2019: Sinn Féin's Mark Ward leads but three-horse race in Dublin Mid West

It is a three-horse race in Dublin Mid West with a fully tally complete. Sinn Féin's Mark Ward is leading, followed by Fine Gael's Emer Higgins and then Independent Paul Gogarty.

While Gogarty will be transfer-friendly, Ward has double the vote so far, according to the tally. Fine Gael insist Higgins is still in the race and could get a huge jump when other candidates lower down are eliminated.

The by-election is to replace Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald who was elected as an MEP in May.

This was also considered Fine Gael's best hope at winning a seat out of the four by-elections.

With a fully tally (shared by the parties) complete, the position of the candidates is:

  • Ward SF (4374)
  • Higgins FG (3412)
  • Gogarty Ind (2329)
  • Moynihan FF (2163)
  • Timmins Ind (1265)
  • Tuffy Lab (1219)
  • Kavanagh GP (1177)
  • Sweeney PBP (902)
  • McNally SD (759)
  • Gardner WP (294)
  • Nolan I4C (255)
  • Madden NP 64
  • Keddy Ind (92)

Ward polled well in Neilstown, winning over 95% of votes in boxes in St Bernadette's National School, as well as a majority in other nearby count centres.

However, the question is whether the councillor's lead is enough to keep clear of the other two.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told the Irish Examiner that councillor Emer Higgins was “still in the race”. He said the party's tallies also show Fianna Fail transferring well to his own party and vice versa.

“It is way too soon to concede,” he said.

But with Ward on almost 24% after the tally and official counting now underway, Higgins has a lot of votes to make up while Gogarty is only on half of the Sinn Fein's councillor's.

Gogarty told the Irish Examiner that tallies now showed Fine Gael and Fianna Fail helping each other out with second and third votes.

“Confidence and supply has turned into a coalition,” he said.

Higgins's support in larger areas such as Lucan and Palmerstown was less than expected, while Sinn Fein won't be accused this time of not getting the vote out.

Fianna Fail are pleased with their candidate councillor Shane Moynihan, but he is likely too far behind to be in with a chance now on just 11.8% of the vote, according to the tally.

All eyes will now watch for the transfers as the lower candidates are eliminated.

Transfers from Labour's Joanna Tuffy and the Greens Peter Kavanagh will give a strong indication of whether Higgins will stay in second or whether Gogarty can leap frog the government party candidate and catch up with Ward.

Elsewhere, the Social Democrats will be disappointed for Anne-Marie McNally, who only polled 759, just marginally above the number she got in the local elections.

Overall though, unless Higgins can make up lost ground from middle-class estates which she did not win, it will be a bad day for Fine Gael in Dublin Mid West and potentially a good one for either Sinn Fein or more likely Independents.

Sitting Sinn Fein TD Eoin O'Broin says the key to the race will be if and when Fianna Fail's Shane Moynihan goes out.

“Moynihan will give a read of the final order,” he said.

Key areas to watch will Palmerstown, where Moynihan is based, and east Lucan. Transfers coming out of Clondalkin-traditionally good for Fianna Fail-could also help Sinn Fein still to keep Ward ahead.

Turnout for Dublin Mid West is expected to be 26.6%.

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