Fine Gael will struggle to win any of the four byelections which took place yesterday, early tallies suggest, as counting continues on Saturday.
While the party hopes that its candidate in Dublin Mid-West Emer Higgins can hang on through the later counts to win, its hopes for Verona Murphy in Wexford and Colm Burke in Cork North Central were fading as the boxes were tallied this morning.
Live coverage of the counts is available on our liveblog.
Fianna Fáil is on course to win seats in Cork and Wexford, while the Greens are likely to add to their Dail representation with a win in Fingal. Dublin Mid-West remains too close to call.
Full tallies in Cork North Central suggested the Fianna Fáil candidate Padraig O’Sullivan is on course to top the poll with 28 per cent of the vote, followed by Fine Gael’s Burke with 21 per cent.
However, the big surprise was the strong performance of the Sinn Féin candidate Tommy Gould who is on course to win 20 per cent of the first preference vote.
Labour’s John Maher will get around 10 per cent, while Green Oliver Moran is expected to break 7 per cent. Based on these figures and expected transfer patterns, Fianna Fáil are firm favourites to retain the seat vacated by MEP Billy Kelleher.
Sinn Féin has also performed extremely well in Dublin Mid-West, where its candidate Mark Ward is on course to win 24 per cent of the first preference vote, on a record low turnout of less than 27 per cent of voters.
However, the final destination of the seat remains a toss-up, with Fine Gael’s Higgins (19 per cent) and Independent Paul Gogarty (13 per cent) still nurturing hopes.
In Fingal, the Green Party is on course for a breakthrough where Joe O’Brien is set to top the poll, early tallies suggested. He will be followed by Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford-Lee, while Fine Gael’s James Reilly could be beaten into fourth place by the Labour candidate Duncan Smith.
Mr Smith, who was Labour’s best hope for a seat in the four contests, seems unlikely to catch Mr O’Brien in later counts, if early tallies are reflected when the votes are counted.
In Wexford, Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne is on course to top the poll with over 30 per cent of the vote. He will be followed by Fine Gael’s Verona Murphy on 24 per cent and Labour’s George Lawlor, who put in a strong performance, on 20 per cent, tallies suggested. Based on these numbers, Mr Byrne will be the overwhelming favourite to take the seat.
First counts are expected by lunchtime, with results likely by late afternoon.