#GE2020: All 160 TDs elected - FF beat SF by one seat

Count centres across the country have reopened this morning as Day 2 of the count gets underway.

#GE2020: All 160 TDs elected - FF beat SF by one seat

THE MAIN POINTS:

  • All 160 seats have been filled with Fianna Fáil the biggest party - just.
  • The next Dáil will be made up of: FF 38; SF 37; FG 35; Green 12; Lab 6; SD 6; S-PBP 5; Ind 21.
  • Cavan-Monaghan was the last constituency to finalise results with Fianna Fáil duo of Brendan Smith and Niamh Smyth taking the seats
  • Simon Harris took one of the last seats after he got elected in the 15th count in Wicklow. Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly was also elected.
  • Mary Lou McDonald: 'This vote for Sinn Féin is for Sinn Féin to be in government.'
  • Sinn Féin received 24.5% of the vote share on first preference; Fianna Fáil got 22.2% and Fine Gael 20.9%.
  • Fine Gael have lost a Minister and two Junior Ministers in Regina Doherty, Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Pat Breen. Minister of State Michael D’Arcy and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross have also lost their seats.
  • Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers was eliminated in Mayo. Former Labour Tánaiste Joan Burton and Solidarity's Ruth Coppinger have also lost their seats.
  • Labour leader Brendan Howlin
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    has been elected in Wexford. Verona Murphy was elected
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    on the eleventh count in the same constituency
  • Social Democrats Co-Leader Roisin Shortall has been elected in Dublin North West
  • Limerick elects
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    first ever Green Party TD
  • Sinn Féin has won a seat in Tipperary for the first time
  • There are 160 seats in the Dáil. The Ceann Comhairle is automatically re-elected, leaving 159 seats up for grabs and 80 the magic number for a majority.

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FF take final two seats to bring them ahead of SF

Fianna Fáil will be the biggest party in the 33rd Dáil after the counting finished in General Election 2020 with Cavan-Monaghan the final constituency to announce their result just before midnight.

The Fianna Fáil duo of Brendan Smith and Niamh Smyth took the final two seats as transfers from running-mate Robbie Gallagher saw them over the line.

That brought the party to 38 seats - just one above Sinn Féin. Fine Gael won 35 seats as the major and minor parties must now come together in order to work out how to get to the magic number of 80 for a Dáil majority.

Sinn Féin, who topped the poll in most areas, and Fianna Fáil each had 37 TDs elected but as Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl was automatically returned, FF will be the top party in when the Dáil resumes.

The Green party took 12 seats, Labour and the Social Democrats six each, Solidarity-People Before Profit will have five TDs and there will be 21 independents in the next Dáil.

Harris, Donnelly keep seats after mammoth Wicklow count

Minister for Health Simon Harris has been re-elected for Fine Gael.

He, along with Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly and Green Party councillor Steven Matthews, took the final three remaining seats in Wicklow in the 15th count late on Monday night.

On Sunday, Sinn Féin’s John Brady swept to victory on the first count in Wicklow after topping the poll, gaining some 17,000-plus votes, or 24% of the poll.

He was followed by Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats, a Greystones-based councillor who outperformed many pundits' expectations.

'I am moving forward outside of politics': Katherine Zappone loses Dáil seat

Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone is bowing out of Irish politics after losing her seat in Dublin South West on Monday night.

She lost out after a two-day marathon on the eleventh count to Noel Francis Duffy of the Green Party and John Lahart of Fianna Fáil, who took the fourth and fifth seats respectively.

The Independent candidate, who trailed in the end by over 2,000 votes, said she was “very proud” of her work as Minister in the Fine Gael Government.

Asked if her vote had been hit by an anti-Government sentiment among voters, given that she served in Government in the last Dáil, she said it “looks like that might have been the case”.

“I do think in the earlier period of the campaign people were willing to distinguish me as an independent from Fine Gael. But I think as time went on that didn’t transpire as much. But at the same time I knew what I was doing when I made the decision to negotiate and form Government with a major political party and I really do believe that as a TD I had the opportunity to bring about more change within Government than outside of it and I feel very proud about that. “

She said she was going to continue her “change work” outside of Irish politics.

I know there are some paths that will be opening for me. What I am not going to do is run for the Seanad. I had five great years as a senator. .. I am moving forward outside of politics.

She said it was “deeply disappointing” that it seemed there would be fewer women in the next Dáil than in the outgoing one.“We need the diversity of women in the Cabinet as well as in the Dáil,” she said.

The count in Citywest concluded shortly before 9 pm on Monday, after two recounts of two separate counts along the way. The first elected TD was Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe, who polled almost two quotas with 20,070, and almost 30 per cent, of first preferences, on Sunday afternoon.

He was followed home on Monday afternoon on the eighth count, by Paul Murphy (Solidarity-PBP/Rise). Colm Brophy was elected on the tenth count on Monday evening, with Lahart and Duffy returned on the eleventh.

Mary Lou McDonald says she could be next taoiseach

By Press Association

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Mary Lou McDonald. Pictures: Liam McBurney/PA Wire and Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Mary Lou McDonald. Pictures: Liam McBurney/PA Wire and Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Mary Lou McDonald has predicted she could be poised to become the next taoiseach

The Sinn Féin president insisted she may lead a new government as taoiseach as her party continued to bask in a remarkable General Election result that saw it top the popular vote, shattering Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s long time grip on power.

On an impromptu walkabout in Dublin city centre, Mrs McDonald said: “I may well be the next taoiseach, yes.”

Counting continued on Monday and, by 5.30pm, 134 of the Dail’s 160 seats were filled.

Despite receiving the most first preference votes, Sinn Féin’s place in the next government is not guaranteed.

The party failed to run enough candidates to capitalise on its surging popularity in Ireland, so it will not finish up with the most seats.

Fianna Fáil is on course to be the largest party though Sinn Féin could finish in second place behind outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael, which is the big loser of the poll.

All three parties will fall well short of reaching the 80 seats required for a Dail majority so, barring another election, some form of coalition is inevitable.

The task of forming a government could be a long and tortuous one and may force either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to back-track on long-standing pledges never to do business with Sinn Féin.

One permutation could see the exclusion of Sinn Féin, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil entering power together in a so-called “grand coalition”, though that prospect looks unlikely at this stage.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates with her supporters after being elected at the RDS Count centre today. Pic: PA
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates with her supporters after being elected at the RDS Count centre today. Pic: PA

Smaller parties and groupings such as the Greens, Labour, the Social Democrats and Solidarity/People Before Profit, and a sizeable number of independent TDs, may all be courted as the main parties seek junior coalition partners.

Mrs McDonald has pledged to work to form a “people’s government” and get to grips with crises in housing and health – the issues that featured so prominently on the campaign trail.

“This election has certainly been seismic and historic, it’s been an election that’s really been driven by a demand for change by the people,” she said.

Sinn Féin won the election, we won the popular vote, we’ve recorded an historic victory for our party but the election is much more than that.

“The election is about a real appetite for political change, and that means a change in government.

“We asked the people to vote for Sinn Fein, the chance to demonstrate what government looks like when citizens and families are put at the centre of government.

“I hope that we can deliver such a government because I am very clear that the people who came out and voted for Sein Féin voted for Sinn Féin to be in government.”

40 seats for one party looking unlikely as counting continues

It looks as though no party will get more than 40 seats in the general election.

Fianna Fáil has suffered a number of losses today that has hurt their chances of leading the next government.

They need everything to fall their way to hit the 40 mark.

Sinn Féin look likey to finish with 37 TDs - a 15 seat gain.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael is going to be somewhere in the mid-30s.

It means there could be as little as two seats between the two largest parties - and that even a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition might not command a Dáil majority

On the back of it Mary Lou McDonald has said she believes she can be Taoiseach and has started talking to other parties about supporting her.

A mandate to establish a Sinn Féin negotiating team for a new government is being organised as a matter of urgency.

The party's Housing Spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin says the electorate want change now and the pressure is on the party to deliver.

Outgoing Dublin Lord Mayor leaves door open on FF/SF coalition

By Juno McEnroe and Digital Desk staff

Newly elected Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North West, outgoing Dublin city mayor Paul McAuliffe, has left the door open on his party working with Sinn Féin in government.

The TD took the third and last seat in the constituency after a long fight for the party, which now looks set to be left with six seats in the capital.

Paul McAuliffe (third left) celebrates after being elected to the Dublin North West seat. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Paul McAuliffe (third left) celebrates after being elected to the Dublin North West seat. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Mr McAuliffe said he would consider his election result and assess the transfers and look at who voted for him before making up his mind up about which party Fianna Fáil might work with in power.

But, when asked, he did not rule out Sinn Féin:

“The reality of Irish politics is people have to look at their mandate, see where it has fallen and then start to talk to each other and it will not be good enough for people to sit on their hands this time.

“Every party will have to play their part in forming a government and try to put in place that change that was voted for right across the country.

“I want to look at the votes I was given. More than 44% of people in my area voted for Sinn Féin, it is an unprecedented result.

“I want to see where their number twos and threes went. I want to soak that up and see where the mandate has come.

“At this point, I think it is all about reflecting the mandate we have been given and then looking at policies.

“If there is common ground, of course you can work with people.”

However, speaking at the Cavan-Monaghan count centre in Cavan town Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has emphatically ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin.

“Absolutely not. No way. That’s my view,” Mr Smith said, when asked if he would consider going into government with Sinn Féin, which has taken two seats in the constituency already.

“First of all I don’t agree with their economic policies, and I have had huge difference with them over the years, and my position will not change in that respect.”

He said was not aware of remarks made by Micheál Martin, his party leader,

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on the possibility of entering government with Sinn Féin

Mr Martin was quoted as saying he is a “democrat”, and that he would listen to the people and respect their decision. The remarks were widely seen as a potential change in the Fianna Fáil stance on entering government with Sinn Féin.

Mary Lou-McDonald, the Sinn Féin president, welcomed today what she called the “softening” of Fianna Fáil’s stance on a coalition with her party. She said she was glad Mr Martin has “ come to his senses” when making comments on Sunday that seemed to open the door to possible talks with her party.

Mr Smith said that was “news to me”. “I don’t think anybody can ever question Micheal Martin’s view in regard to Sinn Féin, he has been consistent, strong and constant on that,” he said, before reiterating that he would “no way” consider going into government with Sinn Féin.

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of seats in the 33nd Dáil are now filled as counts continue to come in.

Earlier today Dublin Central saw Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe home along with Green Party's Neasa Hourgian and Social Democrat Gary Gannon.

Dublin South Central has become an entirely left-wing constituency with the four seats going to Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, the Green Party and Independents 4 Change.

Barry Cowen has won a Fianna Fáil seat in Laois Offaly.

Sinn Féin's Dessie Ellie stormed to victory in Dublin North West with 44% of the first preference vote, or 14,375 votes.

A huge number of his transfers went to Solidarity People Before Profit candidate Conor Reddy, putting him in play for spot in the three-seat constituency.

After the fourth count the Soc Dems co-leader Roisin Shortall with over 8,000 votes.

Although he put in a better performance than may expected, Fine Gael's Noel Rock lost out.

Elsewhere, Danny Healy-Rae has retained his Kerry seat, while Colm Burke and Mick Barry have taken the final two seats in Cork North-Central.

Paul Murphy of Solidarity-People Before Profit/Rise has been elected on the ninth count and is the second TD home in Dublin South West.

Verona Murphy wins Dáil seat in Wexford

Independent candidate Verona Murphy has been elected in Wexford on the eleventh count.

Verona Muprhy at the count centre today. Picture: Mary Browne
Verona Muprhy at the count centre today. Picture: Mary Browne

Fine Gael’s Minister of State Paul Kehoe and Fianna Fáil TD James Brown were also returned on the eleventh count without reaching the quota, bringing the count to the conclusion.

Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen was elected on Sunday following the first count. He was followed by Labour leader

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Brendan Howlin on the eighth count this morning

Fianna Fáil TD Malcolm Byrne, who was elected for the first time in November’s by-election, failed to retain his seat.

Fine Gael’s Minister of State Michael D’Arcy was eliminated on the tenth count with his transfered votes bringing Mr Kehoe over the line a battle with Mr Byrne.

Ms Murphy received the third most votes after transfers (11,849). She was deselected as a Fine Gael candidate last year following controversial comments about immigrants during Novembers by-election campaign.

Ms Murphy missed out on a seat that time and ran as an independent in the general election under the slogan of “vocal and local.”

She struck a conciliatory tone at the count centre on Monday, and thanked her family and team for their support. “I’ve been hear before and tasted defeat.”

Mr Kehoe, who took the last seat thanked his team and used his election speech to warn about the dangers of social media.

“We are elected, we will do our best for the country. But I really, really question the people who use social media in the way that they use it.”

Mr Byrne, who narrowly missed out on retaining his seat, agreed, saying it has this general election has been “a dirty campaign.” Other successful candidates commiserated with Mr Byrne. He said he is disappointed but intends to remain in public life.

EARLIER:

More than 100 seats for the 33rd Dáil have now been filled as counting continues across the country.

Sinn Féin may win up to 38 seats, some projections show. Fianna Fáil is projected to end up with around 41 and Fine Gael's final seat tally is likely to be around 39.

The first recount of the election has been granted in Dublin South West.

Fianna Fáil’s Deirdre O’Donovan has been granted a recount of the last count, count 5. She was eliminated with 3,639 votes in the count, trailing Solidarity-People Before Profit’s Sandra Fay by just three votes.

The recount is getting underway and is expected to take about two hours. Sinn Féin’s Sean Crowe is the only candidate elected in this five seater.

In Kerry, the third count has failed to elect anybody and it could be only until after the fifth count before either Danny Healy-Rae or Brendan Griffin get elected.

Long standing Labour TD

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Jan O'Sullivan has lost her seat in Limerick
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become the first ever Limerick Green Party TD

The Independent candidate Peter Casey has been eliminated in Donegal on the fourth count.

Sinn Féin has won a seat in Tipperary for the first time in the history of the state.

Its candidate Martin Browne, who lost his seat on the county council just last May, was elected on the eighth count this afternoon.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath was re-elected in the same count.

The election count there is now complete following the election of Labour's Alan Kelly and Fianna Fail's Jackie Cahill on the ninth count without reaching the quota.

Dublin South Central has returned four left wing TDs to the 33nd Dáil, with Minister of State Catherine Byrne the latest high profile Fine Gael figure to lose her seat in the general election.

Long-time Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh topped the poll, and without a running mate his transfers brought Bríd Smith (People Before Profit-Solidarity) over the line on the second count.

Green Party candidate Patrick Costello took the third seat, and Independents4Change TD Joan Collins clinched the final seat, ahead of Byrne on the last count.

State of play:

With more than 100 of the 160 seats filled in the 33rd Dáil, Fianna Fáil looks

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set to emerge as the biggest party with more than 41 seats

As things stand, Sinn Féin has 36 seats so far and are likely to pick up four more, while Fianna Fáil have 21 seats at present, but are in contention in constituencies all over the country.

Fine Gael's poor election is continuing with the party firmly in third place with just 18 seats, with several senior ministers including Richard Bruton and Paschal Donohoe yet to be elected.

The Green Party currently hold 7 seats and could ultimately win double that if counts continue as expected, but with the size of the Sinn Féin surpluses, the spread of the transfers is quite disparate.

The Social Democrats are on course to have a very good election and will return with five or six seats, up from the two they held in the last Dáil.

Jim O'Callaghan: Not 'tenable' for Fianna Fáil to go into coalition with Sinn Féin

By Juno McEnroe

Fianna Fáil's justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan has said that the idea of his party and Sinn Féin working in government together is not “tenable”.

Speaking after his re-election in Dublin Bay South, the senior Fianna Fáil figure said his party could not go back on promises made to voters not to enter coalition with Sinn Féin.

Jim O'Callaghan is elected as papers are counted at the RDS in Dublin. Picture: PA
Jim O'Callaghan is elected as papers are counted at the RDS in Dublin. Picture: PA

Asked by the Irish Examiner about party leader Micheál Martin's softening of the ground over potentially working with Sinn Féin, Mr O'Callaghan said:

“My own view is completely clear. We gave an assurance prior to the election to the electorate that we wouldn't go into coalition with Sinn Féin.

“That's what we said before the election. That's what I said on the doorstep when people raised that question with me in Dublin Bay South.

"And I don't think it is tenable now for us to change our policy in respect of that.”

He said this was not a personalised comment against Sinn Féin TDs. But he added:

“When you look at the policy differences between Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, I don't think it is tenable that we should be in coalition with them.”

The remarks come after leader Micheál Martin yesterday

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did a U-turn on his red line on not working with Sinn Féin

Other Fianna Fáil TDs have also privately said that they would not be against opening discussions with Sinn Féin. However, any cooperation with Mary Lou McDonald's party would require a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis and for ordinary members to approve such a path.

Ms McDonald has said she is open to working with all parties.

Together, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin would potentially command close to or above 80 TDs, a majority in the Dail and enough to form a government.

Howlin: Left-wing coalition 'doesn’t make sense numerically'

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has been elected in Wexford after reaching the quota on the eighth count.

There was a relatively subdued reaction to Mr Howlin’s election just before 11am today. He was expected to be returned late last night but failed to reach the quota before counting was adjourned.

Brendan Howlin after being elected. Picture: Mary Browne
Brendan Howlin after being elected. Picture: Mary Browne

Mr Howlin got 12,930 votes after transfers. The quota was 12,513.

Speaking afterwards, he said he was honoured to be elected but conceded it was a bad election for the Labour Party nationally. Mr Howlin is the second Labour candidate to be returned after the election of its TD Sean Sherlock in Cork this morning.

Asked about a potential coalition, Mr Howlin said Labour’s director of elections has been talking to Sinn Féin's director of elections this morning but that a broad left-wing coalition “doesn’t make sense numerically”.

Mr Howlin said he is not thinking about his future as Labour leader at the moment and is instead concentrating on getting as many colleagues as possible across the line today.

“Then we’ll have a period of reflection and see what the future holds and see how we’re going to shape a resurgence in the party.”

|Brendan Howlin celebrates his election this morning. Picture: Mary Browne
|Brendan Howlin celebrates his election this morning. Picture: Mary Browne
Roisin Shortall just befere it was announced that she had been elected. Picture via Social Democrats,Twitter
Roisin Shortall just befere it was announced that she had been elected. Picture via Social Democrats,Twitter

Shortall signals Soc Dems are open to coalition talks with SF or FF

By Juno McEnroe

Social Democrats Roisin Shortall has signalled that her party would be open to possible coalition talks with Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil.

Following her successful re-election to Dublin North West, Ms Shortall said voters had decided they wanted change and an end to a “divided” country that had existed under Fine Gael.

Speaking to reporters in the RDS, Dublin, Ms Shortall added: “We just don't know how things will shake out...It will be two or three days before the final seats are filled.

“From our point of view, the priorities are that the big problems in the country are solved. That's what the public wants us to do.”

"They didn't like the kind of responses of government over the last four years and they are very definitely looking for something different, a change in direction.”

Asked about working with Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil, Ms Shortall said: “Any party will speak to any party depending on what the numbers are. We thought it was wrong for any party to be excluded [from talks]. The numbers dictate and the public decide what it is going to be.”

The Social Democrats now look on track to potentially win as many as six seats in the elections. This follows the election of Holly Cairns in Cork South West while the party also looks set to take a Dáil seat in Dublin Bay North and possibly Dublin Central.

Coveney: FG 'didn't connect' with voters

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has described the verdict of voters as “harsh” and a result of the pubic being “impatient” for more housing and a better health service.

Housing and health were the key issues of the “hugely disappointing” election, he told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the counting of votes for Cork City South Central. Picture: Provision
Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the counting of votes for Cork City South Central. Picture: Provision

“Undoubtedly, they were the two big issues of the campaign and people were impatient for progress and an improvement to public services in both of those areas,” he said.

Mr Coveney said the electorate had voted for something more radical in the belief it could be delivered quicker, adding that he wasn’t sure it could.

However, he acknowledged: “This undoubtedly was an election where Fine Gael didn’t connect with the electorate in the way we wanted to.”

“I’m not going to sugar-coat anything here - this was a bad election for Fine Gael. We’ll recover from it, learn from it, listen to what people have had to say and bounce back.”

Asked if Leo Varadkar should continue as party leader, Mr Coveney said he should.

“I think actually he has done a really good job as Taoiseach, even though the verdict of the people was a harsh one, and one we need to accept,” he added.

Mr Coveney again ruled out a coalition between his party and Sinn Féin saying it would result in “a lot of clashes”. “It is primarily about policy,” he added.

Mary Lou McDonald waves to supporters at the count centre in the RDS, Dublin. Picture: RollingNews.ie
Mary Lou McDonald waves to supporters at the count centre in the RDS, Dublin. Picture: RollingNews.ie

Bertie Ahern: Mary Lou McDonald has 'right' to lead government-formation talks

Former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said Mary Lou McDonald has the “right” to lead talks on the formation of a new government.

“Mary Lou has the right to first call,” he said.

Mr Ahern told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke that Sinn Féin’s overall vote would have translated into 48 seats - 11 more than they are likely to win - and that was “the will of the people”.

“Sinn Féin are the huge winners; they have had an extraordinary election,” he said.

Mr Ahern said his experience in helping form “unthinkable” coalitions in the past taught him “what is likely to end here is not predictable.”

“Everyone is saying this is earth-shattering.. but fundamental changes have had to happen in the past… I think people will work to form a government because they won’t want another election, or that is where they will inevitably end up.”

Mr Ahern said he believes “confidence and supply is fairly dead” and he doesn’t see such an arrangement as part of the next Dáil.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil’s director of elections Dara Calleary said his party will “certainly” talk with Sinn Féin about a programme for government.

“We will see what programme they put together...We certainly will talk about the programme and the policy actions,” he said. “We certainly will engage with them, we are not going to refuse to talk to them."

But he added policy differences and issues of “principle” remained “difficult hurdles” to a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.

Voters have demanded urgent action on housing and health, he said, adding: “If somebody pus something in front of us that will deal with those in a credible manner, in an urgent manner, we have to talk to people.”

'Uniquely demanding and complex'

Outgoing Minister for Finance and Fine Gael director of elections Paschal Donohoe said Sinn Féin’s performance was a “remarkable achievement” but he played down the assertion they had won the election.

“I’ll form a view regarding who won the election when we see who is in the next government,” he said.

“I think that is a critical element for deciding who did and did not win.”

Mr Donohoe said his party needs time to “reflect” on the outcome and that the coming weeks would be “uniquely demanding and complex” in terms of trying to form a new government.

Clare set for first SF TD in 98 years

Clare is set to elect its first Sinn Féin TD in almost a century later today with the election of west Clare mother-of-five, Violet Anne Wynn.

The counting of votes resumed at 9am at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon with the distribution of independent, Liam Woulfe’s 1,504 votes.

SF hasn’t had a TD elected in Clare since 1922 and Ms Wynne and Cllr Cathal Crowe (FF) are expected to take two seats.

There are currently five candidates in the hunt for the other two seats with Timmy Dooley (FF), Pat Breen (FG), Joe Carey (FG), Michael McNamara (ind) and Cllr Roisin Garvey in the hunt.

EARLIER: 'This is a vote for SF to be in government': McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said Election 2020 has delivered a vote to put Sinn Féin into government once the count is over.

"This vote for Sinn Féin is for Sinn Féin to be in government," she said this morning, adding that her first choice remained a "new Government without Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael".

She confirmed the party had contacted the Greens, People Before Profit and the Social Democrats, as well as Independents and will speak to the Labour party - "everybody who would be outside the old two (of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael)". However, she said she also remained open to talking to the larger two parties.

Ms McDonald also said she was glad to see Micheál Martin had "come to his senses" after he appeared to soften his stance on whether to consider a government compact with Sinn Féin. “The democratic thing is for them to speak to me and stop this business of saying Sinn Féin can be put on the margin… so many people now have chosen us to represent them,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mary Lou McDonald in ebullient form at the RDS count centre in Dublin yesterday. Picture: PA
Mary Lou McDonald in ebullient form at the RDS count centre in Dublin yesterday. Picture: PA

The Fianna Fáil leader yesterday said large policy differences remained between the two parties, but also said "I am a democrat" and acknowledged the large popular vote for Sinn Féin.

“It was never a sustainable position to suggest that a party such as ours, that represents such a substantial number of citizens, that there would be an active campaign to exclude us was completely wrong,” said Ms McDonald.

“We’ve known for for a long time that the dominance of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is over.. the people have made that decision.”

Ms McDonald said she believes a “people’s government” can be formed.

The Sinn Féin leader also admitted the party, which stormed home in many constituencies with huge surpluses, should have run more candidates, with the benefit of hindsight.

“There is no doubt there are constituencies where we have left seats behind,” she said.

SF-FF coalition 'would be a betrayal of the people': Brid Smith

Solidarity People Before Profit's Brid Smith has said a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition would be a betrayal of the people's wishes.

Deputy Smith, who was elected yesterday in Dublin South Central, said: "If that happens (a SF/FF coalition), I think it will be a huge disappointment to the people of this country, who clearly said - repeatedly said, to us on the doorstep - 'No Fianna Fáil, no Fine Gael. We want something entirely different'.

"We want them out; we're sick of them both - that's what we got continually thorughout the campaign.

"I think it would be a betrayal to the people to go back into a government that had either of those parties in a ruling position."

Brid Smith, reelected, at the RDS count Centre Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Brid Smith, reelected, at the RDS count Centre Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Earlier:

Seventy-eight of the 160 seats to be won in Election 2020 have now been filled, with counting to resume in a number of constituencies this morning.

Sinn Féin still lead the field, but both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are gaining ground thanks to their far higher number of fielded candidates - Sinn Féin fielded 42 candidates, to Fianna Fáil's 84 and Fine Gael's 82.

Twenty-nine Sinn Féin candidates have now been elected to the 33rd Dáil. Fianna Fáil have won 16 seats while Fine Gael has 14 TDs so far.

Independent candidates have picked up eight seats, the Greens five, SOL-PBP and the Social Democrats have two apiece. Labour and Aontú have secured one seat each.

A number of well-known political names and heavy-hitters have lost their seats. Fine Gael have lost both a Minister and Junior Minister in Regina Doherty and Mary Mitchell O'Connor. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross also lost his seat, while Fianna Fáil's Lisa Chambers was eliminated in Mayo. Former Labour Tánaiste Joan Burton and Solidarity's Ruth Coppinger have also lost their seats.

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson, Michael McGrath, were elected in Cork South Central.

The constituency has returned the same representatives it did in 2016 - two Fianna Fáil, one Fine Gael and one Sinn Féin.

Mr Coveney had to wait just over seven hours after Sinn Fein's Donnchadh O Laoghaire topped the poll to be elected on the eighth count, after he exceeded the 11,429 quota with 12,170 votes.

Because Mr McGrath, with 10,809 votes, had more votes that the other remaining candidate, Green Party Cork city councillor Lorna Bogue, on 9,179, plus the untransferred surplus, he was deemed to be elected, without reaching the quota, taking the fourth and final seat.

DonnchadhOLaoghaire, pictured at the Cork count.
DonnchadhOLaoghaire, pictured at the Cork count.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald insists she will talk to all parties when it comes to forming a new government. She said any refusal to engage with Sinn Féin on the formation of a new government betrayed a "state of denial. They (Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael) are still not listening to what the people have said."

Asked if the result marked a revolution in Irish politics, Mrs McDonald replied: “Yes, you could call it that for sure.”

However, Taosieach Leo Varadkar said he intends to stand by the party's commitment not to enter into coalition with Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin suggested yesterday that he had softened his stance against talking to Sinn Féin, while acknowledging that large policy differences remain between the two parties.

Micheál Martin TD speaking to the press at the Cork North and Cork South Central Count Centre at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan
Micheál Martin TD speaking to the press at the Cork North and Cork South Central Count Centre at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

A total of 159 seats have to be filled (Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is automatically returned in Kildare South). Count centres will re-open their doors from 9am today.

Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness was re-elected in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency overnight, with counting set to resume at 10am today. McGuinness’ excess and the transfers from the latest candidate to be eliminated - Adrienne Wallace of Solidarity People Before Profit - will be transferred once counting resumes.

'Nail-biting'

Earlier yesterday, Sinn Féin’s Katheleen Funchion secured a seat on the first count with an excess of more than 5,000 votes. Carlow-based Fianna Fail candidate Jennifer Murnane-O’Connor now leads the remaining candidates with more than 10,000 votes, on her way to the 12,274 vote quota.

Deering, along with fellow Fine Gael candidate John Paul Phelan, the Greens Malcolm Noonan and Fianna Fail’s Bobby Aylward are all in contention for the remaining seats.

Meanwhile, There are two seats to be filled in Dublin Mid West, after Sinn Féin claimed the first two yesterday. Counting resumes in Citywest at 10.30am.

Last night, outgoing Fine Gael Minister Josepha Madigan managed to clinch the third and final seat in Dublin Rathdown, despite what she described as a "nail-biting day".

Lisa Chambers on losing her seat in Mayo: 'This is democracy in action'

Fine Gael’s Michael Ring topped the poll in Co Mayo and was elected to the Dáil with 14,796 votes on the first count.

Michael Ring celebrating his election overnight. Picture: Keith Heneghan
Michael Ring celebrating his election overnight. Picture: Keith Heneghan

Also through on the first count was Rose Conway-Walsh, the first Sinn Féin candidate to be elected to the Dáil since 1927. A third-time general election candidate, Conway-Walsh more than doubled her 2016 return, achieving 14,633 first-preference votes.

The county has for a long time been a Fine Gael/ Fianna Fáil stronghold, but the Sinn Féin surge has burst open the grip of the traditional big two.

Speaking at the count centre in Castlebar, Conway-Walsh said: “There were lots of predictions that it would be two and two all the way, but we knew from canvassing right across the county from the beginning that there was a mood for change.”

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary surpassed the quota on the final count, taking a total of 13,636 votes. His colleague and Fianna Fáil's Brexit Spokesperson Lisa Chambers, with 8,911 votes, lost her seat to former Mayo footballer and Fine Gael newcomer Alan Dillon, who finished with 10,977. Standing in Castlebar, Dillon filled the large gap left by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Addressing the count centre, Lisa Chambers said: "This is democracy in action...It is difficult in defeat always. Of course, I am disappointed but life moves on."

The Green Party’s rising star Saoirse McHugh was knocked out after the fifth count, with a total of 6,036 votes, while Fine Gael's Michelle Mulherin finished with 7,427 votes after the sixth count.

Turnout in the Mayo constituency was 66.12%, and the quota was 12,871.

Michael Lowry punches the air as he celebrates topping the poll on the first count in Tipperary. Picture: Eamonn McGee
Michael Lowry punches the air as he celebrates topping the poll on the first count in Tipperary. Picture: Eamonn McGee

In Tipperary, the general election count will restart at 10am in Thurles, with four seats left to fill.

Veteran Independent TD Michael Lowry topped the poll and was the only candidate elected last night.

He is the first Dáil deputy to win a seat in his constituency in every general election since he first stood as a candidate in 1997.

He said he was honoured to represent the county, saying: "This is my ninth general election (and) my sixth as an Independent candidate. It's my sixth time heading the poll and it's all due to you, my supporters."

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