6:05pm – Voters in Ireland and the Czech Republic went to the polls on Friday. Czechs will still vote on Saturday, and neither country will count their European Parliament ballots until Sunday evening, so we don’t have any information about the European results.
However, Ireland also went to the polls to elect local government councillors and fill two vacant Dail seats: one in Dublin South and the other in Dublin Central. Votes are starting to be counted now and we should have some results within two hours.
6:17pm – In Dublin South, a by-election is being held to fill the seat of Fianna Fail TD Seamus Brennan, who died in July 2008. Fine Gael recruited RTE Economics Editor George Lee as their candidate, in a move reminiscent of Maxine McKew in Bennelong. Early first preferences in Dublin South have Lee winning 70% of first preferences.
6:21pm – In comparison, in 2007 the 3 Fianna Fail candidates in Dublin South polled just over 41%, compared to 27% for the 3 Fine Gael candidates, although both parties elected 2 TDs, with the fifth seat going to Eamon Ryan of the Green Party.
6:28pm – Dublin Central is the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who polled 36.8% of the primary vote. The other seats were won by another Fianna Fail TD, a Labour candidate and independent Tony Gregory. Gregory’s death in 2008 triggered the by-election.
While Dublin South seems a fait accompli, you could argue that Dublin Central is a four-way race between Fianna Fail (running Bertie’s brother Maurice Ahern), Fine Gael, Labour and independent Maureen O’Sullivan.
7:12pm – The current figures in Dublin Central:
- Paschal Donahue (FG) – 21%
- Ivana Bacik (LAB) – 20%
- Maureen O’Sullivan (IND) – 20%
- Maurice Ahern (FF) – 15%
- Christy Burke (SF) – 9%
It appears that Fianna Fail will definitely fail to win this seat.
7:39pm – So the numbers in Dublin Central are remaining steady. If this is so, it appears that Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein preferences will flow to Maureen O’Sullivan, putting her in first place when you narrow it to a three-horse race. Either Labour or Fine Gael is then eliminated, and whichever remains has to get a large slow from the other to defeat O’Sullivan. Considering Sinn Fein and Green preferences, I tend to think it will be a race between O’Sullivan and Labour, with Labour needing a very strong preference flow from Fine Gael to win.
8:22pm – The Green Party are performing very badly on local councils, and it appears they will lose many of their seats. They polling 2-3% in many places.
8:58pm – Even though the Irish aren’t formally counting European votes tonight, it appears that there are some reports coming through from scrutineers. In Dublin, it appears that Labour and Fine Gael safely are on track for one seat, while Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party is performing strongly.
9:02pm – Various results in North-West Ireland indicate that Libertas leader Declan Ganley is performing well, including polling 31% in Sligo.
9:05pm – Ganley is also polling well in Clare and Donegal. It appears the polling figures underestimated his support.
10:13pm – North-West Ireland update: Libertas’ Declan Ganley and independent Mareen Harkin performing well. Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher (Fianna Fail) not performing as well as expected.
10:21pm – Dublin Central has long been dominated by the Ahern family, with Bertie Ahern’s brother Maurice running for Fianna Fail. Yet Maurice Ahern is on 12%, with Maureen O’Sullivan on 26%, and Fine Gael on 22%.
10:23pm – Apparently Ciaran Cuffe, who is a Green Party TD, has raised the prospect of the Green Party withdrawing from the government, which would likely bring down the government and bring on a general election.
10:31pm – Tonight has been horrible for the Green Party. Their polling numbers are extremely low and their council numbers have been decimated. You would have to think they are at risk of being wiped out in the Dail at the next election. If they were to bring down the government and go back to first principles, could that be the only way to salvage their base? It’s possible the government could fall over the next year without the involvement of the Green Party, so wouldn’t it be better for them to pick key issues to play hardball with Fianna Fail, and be willing to ultimately pull out if need be.