Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath have taken the final seats in Cork South Central despite a remarkable late surge by the Green Party’s Lorna Bogue.
Coveney received 12,170 votes, including transfers, to exceed the quota on the 8th count, while McGrath fell short with 10,789 but was deemed to be elected ahead of the last remaining candidate, Ms Bogue, unable to reach the quota.
Ms Bogue received 1,642 transfers on the final count to finish with 9,179.
Mr Coveney said: “This was a tough election for Fine Gael in this constituency and many others too.
“It’s an extraordinary privilege to be elected and a number of us elected have been now for quite some time for this constituency. The honour never fades. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or fifth or sixth time."
“The political infrastructure in Ireland has now fractured to an extent that we haven’t seen before and we now have an obligation, all of us, to work and try and out a stable government and if that is not possible my party will enter opposition and do the best job we possibly can."
Michael McGrath said: “I want to thank my rock, Seamus my brother who once again has run my campaign.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has refused to answer questions about his willingness to do a deal with Sinn Féin upon his election on the sixth count in Cork South Central.
Mr Martin said today is a day for those elected to enjoy and the question of forming a government can wait until all seats are filled.
"We took two seats and 35% of the vote between Michael McGrath and myself. I want to thank the people of Cork South Central because it’s a great privilege when people put so much trust in you. I appreciate that and respect that.
"Today is a day to let the election unfold and let people enjoy their election.
"In the cold light of day, tomorrow and the day after, we’ll assess where we are because I’m not taking anything for granted.
"There’s a lot now riding on transfers and distributions. It’s far too early and our first priority is to assess how we are doing.
"I think Sinn Féin has already made it clear they don’t want to go into Government with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil."
Sinn Féin's Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire became the first TD elected to the 33rd Dáil, topping the poll ahead of heavy-hitters such as Micheál Martin, Simon Coveney and Michael McGrath
Mr Ó Laoghaire turned 32 yesterday and supporters at the Nemo Rangers count centre showered him in song upon the announcement of his election after the counting of first preference votes.
He secured 14,057 first preference votes, reaching the quota easily on the first count, with a surplus of more than 2,500 votes.
Mr Ó Laoghaire has said the big parties can no longer afford to ignore Sinn Fein after the party topped the poll unexpectedly in Cork South Central.
“There is enormous appetite for change out there," he said.
"There are thousands of young people who don’t have any prospect of ever owning a home of their own.
"They saw in our policies a radical alternative and they voted for it in numbers. Now we want the opportunity to implement our policies.
“My message to Micheál Martin is to listen to what the electorate has said, they have given a resounding verdict of the last four years of so-called confidence and supply.
"I think the public is looking for an alternative. We will talk to all parties. I have no particular grá for either Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. My own preference is to talk to other progressive parties."
Micheál Martin is in second place with 11,023, Simon Coveney is next with 9,327, and Michael McGrath with 9,236. Neither three have reached the quota so counting is continuing, but all three are expected to eventually be elected.
The Green Party’s Lorna Bogue took 5,379, while Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer fell well short on 2,828.
The total vote was 90,916 with a 63.2% turnout.
Micheál Martin said there is “significant incompatibility” between his party and Sinn Fein over policy.
"The election has happened and we will listen to the people," Mr Martin said.
"They have voted for, in the main, the three main parties, but other parties like the Greens are doing well as well. The point is that we are looking at a far more fragmented political landscape than historically so.
"People are quite volatile from election to election.
"One’s policies and principals don’t change overnight and there are serious policy issues [to be resolved] and for any government to sustain into the future there has to be a coherent, sustainable programme for government that can be implemented and delivered."
"There is significant incompatibility in terms of the policy platforms of ourselves and Sinn Féin. Our policies and principals have not changed overnight."
Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire is set to take the first seat in Cork South Central comfortably, with the final tally showing him at 24.77% (13937 votes).
It looks like it will be ‘as you were’ in the constituency, with the four sitting TDs occupying the top four spots in the tally.
Possible next Taoiseach Micheál Martin is in second place, with 19.22% of the vote, followed by Tánaiste Simon Coveney on 16.25%. Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath is just behind Mr Coveney, 16.12%.
Next closest is Green Party candidate Lorna Bogue, on 9.43%. She may prove transfer-friendly but it is a big gap to close.
It doesn’t look like Fine Gael’s Jerry Buttimer will regain his seat, with 4.98% of the vote after the final tally.
Elsewhere the tally is Anna Daly (AON) 2.35% (1521), Paudie Dineen (IND) .77% (431), John Donohue (IND) .25% (141), Ciara Kennedy (LAB) 2.15% (1207), Bobby, Murray Walsh (PBP) 1.31% (737), Patricia O’Dwyer (SD) 1.87% (1054) and Sean O’Leary (IND) .18% (99).
WITH just over half of all boxes open in the Cork South Central constituency, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has tightened his grip on his seat and the possibility of topping the poll.
Mr Ó Laoghaire has polled 7031 first preferences, almost 2,000 head of potential Taoiseach Micheál Martin on 5,084.
Current Tánaiste Simon Coveney has pulled 4,433, and Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath also looks to be safe taking 4,265.
Senator Jerry Buttimer appears to have little chance of taking a seat with just 1,249.
Green Party candidate Lorna Bogue has performed well with 2,670. Independent Cork city councillor Paudie Dineen will be disappointed with just 215 first preference votes thus far.
While the Sinn Féin surge is the story of this constituency, South Central remains very much a Fine Gael and Fiann Fáil area with both parties combined taking over 67% of the first preference votes.
70 of 137 boxes have been opened with a turnout of 59.5%.
SINN Féin’s early polling surge in Cork city constituencies has been put down to young voters’ apathy toward the main parties.
Councillor Kenneth Collins, who is watching the count on behalf of the party, said voters have had enough of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in Cork city.
“The young voters are after coming out after listening to our policies. The young renters that are struggling and the people we represent have out their faith in us and voted. This is very good for Sinn Féin today. We have got our message out and we are very happy."
When asked if the party regrets running just one candidate in both Cork South Central and North Central, Mr Collins said that it has always been the party’s strategy to run just one.
“There is no regret. We had a bad local election in May but we have stuck to our plan to run one candidate on either side of the city and it’s working well for us so far. It’s early but the numbers are looking good for us.”
Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire is topping the poll in Cork South Central with 34 of 137 boxes open in the constituency.
The first tally of the count has put him on 24.9% (3056 first preference votes), way ahead of Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin on 20.15% (2474 votes).
Tánaiste Simon Coveney is in third place with 17.14% of the vote (2104 votes) Michael McGrath, also of Fianna Fáil, has polled 12.76% of the vote (1566 votes) but many of the boxes in his constituency have yet to be opened and will likely move further up the pecking once the next round of boxes are open.
The Green Party’s Lorna Bogue is performing well, as expected, but an 11% share of the vote at this stage (1350 votes) may not be enough. The early signs for Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer are not good with just 4.44% of voters showing faith in him (545 votes).
EARLY indications in Cork South Central suggest that the four sitting TDs will be returned to the Dáil.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath and Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire all look to be safe after the first few boxes were opened in the constituency.
Senior party members from both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have indicated to The Echo at this stage that they feel they have nothing to fear from the Green Party’s Lorna Bogue, who has polled well in St Luke’s and parts of Douglas.
However, it appears that Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer is set to miss out on a return to the Dáil after losing his seat in the 2016 General Election.
With just a small proportion of boxes open so far, it remains to be seen who will top the poll but counted votes would indicate that it will follow a similar pattern to 2016 when Michael McGrath topped the poll.
On that occasion, Simon Coveney took the fourth seat but his performance as Foreign Affairs Minister in Brexit negotiations has seen him poll very well so far this morning, at this early stage.