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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 27 February, 2017
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We kept the electoral show on the road down here at Dublin Castle for the morning – this is what happened up to 3:15pm. The latest updates are on our Part 2 liveblog.

Good morning from Dublin Castle. They say that a week is a long time in politics… whoever coined that had never sat in a count centre for a day.

It’s 9:40am and currently the mood in Dublin Castle is… well, non-existent. There isn’t a mood: the room that was so crowded last night, as the seven candidates, their crews and the world’s media arrived, is a ghost town this morning. There are (I am counting) 19 people in the room.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to tell you about – so let’s just recap on where things are, on this Saturday morning.

Right. Let’s start with the main order of business: the presidential election.

It is, of course, unquestioned that Michael D Higgins will be the ninth president of Ireland – but, because this is not a mathematical certainty, we need to keep going with the count. We’re right now in the third count.

The first count saw the elimination of Dana Rosemary Scallon and Mary Davis, with their votes transferred to the other five candidates; the second count then saw David Norris eliminated. It’s his votes that we’re now seeing distributed.

In the Dublin West by-election, meanwhile, count staff are up and at it again despite a very late finish in the by-election – where, after a sustained disruption, Labour’s Patrick Nulty was ultimately deemed elected to fill the seat vacated by Brian Lenihan.

At the end of the fourth count, Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness was some 18 votes ahead of the Socialist Party’s Ruth Coppinger. The latter asked for a recheck, and then the two candidates were declared perfectly level.

The Socialists – fully believing that Nulty was going to win anyway – offered Fianna Fáil the chance to simply declare their candidates as ‘joint second’ and to conceded the seat to Nulty, but the returning officer – guided by Section 122(3) of the Electoral Act, 1992 – proceeded to eliminate Coppinger, because FF’s McGuinness had more first transfers.

Thus, McGuinness and Nulty went into the final count, but Coppinger’s transfers were easily enough to ensure that Nulty came out victorious.

The more intriguing outcome of the day, however, is likely to be in the case of the two referendums – the 29th Amendment to the Constitution, on Judges’ Pay, and the 30th Amendment which deals with Oireachtas inquiries.

All of the general tallies indicate that the 29th is likely to pass with an easy majority, but that the 30th Amendment is quite simply too close to call.

On that topic, Brendan Howlin was on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, where he admitted he was ‘concerned’ about the outcome of the referendum on Oireachtas inquiries.

And well he might be – he is the minister who (nominally, at least) is in charge of this referendum, and in his home constituency of Wexford it looks like the referendum may – may – be be defeated, albeit by the slimmest of margins.

But back to the Presidency for the moment. We’re told that the third count has been completed in Wexford, and also in Dublin South where count staff are actually getting a head-start on the referendum counting

Across Ireland’s 43 constituencies, there are 116,526 ballots to transfer – those attributed to David Norris, whether they be his first preferences, or some of the second preferences he accrued from Davis and Scallon.

The third count has now been completed in Kerry North-West Limerick.

The turnout in this year’s presidential election, by the way, was 1,790,438 - or around 56.1 per cent. That, given the length of the campaign and the supposed election fatigue we were all mean to be experiencing, is actually surprisingly high. It’s up by 8.5 per cent on 1997.

OK. While we wait for the third count details to be given to us, here’s a recap on the counts so far.

Count 1:

- Mary Davis: 48,657 (2.7%)
- Sean Gallagher: 504,964 (28.5%)
- Michael D Higgins: 701,101 (41.2%)
- Martin McGuinness: 243,030 (13.7%)
- Gay Mitchell: 113,321 (6.4%)
- David Norris: 109,469 (6.2%)
- Dana Rosemary Scallon: 51,220 (2.9%)

Mary Davis, and Dana Rosemary Scallon, were both eliminated.

Count 2 of the presidential election – to distribute the 99,877 votes of Davis and Scallon – was as follows:

- Sean Gallagher: +24,437 = 529,401 (29.9%)
- Michael D Higgins: +29,379 = 730,480 (41.2%)
- Martin McGuinness: +9,581 = 252,611 (14.3%)
- Gay Mitchell: +14,036 = 127,357 (7.2%)
- David Norris: + 7057 = 116,256 (6.6%)
– non-transferrable votes: 15,387

David Norris was eliminated alone, because his votes could potentially have pushed Gay Mitchell to the 221,470 votes he needs in order to secure a refund of his electoral expenses.

Count centres around the country are now getting rid of Norris’s 116,256 votes. Thereafter, they will eliminate both Mitchell and McGuinness, leaving just Gallagher and Higgins in the final count.

We now have third counts in from seven centres – we’ll give you those official numbers once we can pull them together.

OK. The first of those seven counts: Cork South Central

- Gallagher +574
- Higgins +2,010
- McGuinness +377
- Mitchell +243

If this is the habit we’ll be repeating, it looks like the Norris transfers break down heavily for Higgins – no surprise really – with the rest in the same proportion as the other first counts.

Donegal South-West:

- Gallagher +181
- Higgins +467
- McGuinness +141
- Mitchell +93

Galway East:

- Gallagher +198
- Higgins +678
- McGuinness +187
- Mitchell +100

Kerry North-West Limerick:

- Gallagher +270
- Higgins +695
- McGuinness +194
- Mitchell +101

Roscommon-S Leitrim: Gallagher +291, Higgins +721, McGuinness +218, Mitchell +94

Sligo-N Leitrim: Gallagher +229, Higgins +808, McGuinness +179, Mitchell +108

Tipp South: Gallagher +292, Higgins +710, McGuinness +185, Mitchell +126

Clare: Gallagher +364, Higgins +977, McGuinness +213, Mitchell +125

Cork North Central: Gallagher +363, Higgins +1199, McGuinness +298, Mitchell +128

Cork South-Central: Gallagher +574, Higgins +2010, McGuinness +377, Mitchell +243

Galway East: Gallagher +198, Higgins +678, McGuinness +187, Mitchell +100

Mayo: Gallagher +269, Higgins +887, McGuinness +198, Mitchell +144

Meath East: Gallagher +475, Higgins +1292, McGuinness +250, Mitchell +196

Wexford: Gallagher +567, Higgins +1474, McGuinness +329, Mitchell +240

Donegal North East: Gallagher +183, Higgins +401, McGuinness +123, Mitchell +73

Kerry South: Gallagher +222, Higgins +755, McGuinness +155, Mitchell +84

Louth: Gallagher +543, Higgins +1,784, McGuinness +434, Mitchell +225

Dublin North Central: Gallagher +491, Higgins +2,020, McGuinness +373, Mitchell +280

Now. That’s 18 counts. Phew! We’re getting there. Here’s how we look at this juncture:

Seán Gallagher 534,913
Michael D. Higgins 747,358
Martin McGuinness 256,464
Gay Mitchell 129,717

A slight correction in make: at 09.57 I suggested that Brendan Howlin was ‘concerned’ about the judges’ pay referendum. It was the other one – the more contentious ballot on Oireachtas Inquiries – that is the actual concern.

I’ll say nothing if you’ll say nothing. If you know what I mean.

Right. We’ve been speaking to Joe Costello, Labour’s director of elections – who, it is probably fair to say, has masterminded Michael D Higgins’ victory. We’ll have his comments in a moment, but first, more results…

Carlow-Kilkenny: Gallagher +558, Higgins +1537, McGuinness +386, Mitchell +180

Cavan-Monaghan: Gallagher +407, Higgins +750, McGuinness +234, Mitchell +216

Cork East: Gallagher +359, Higgins +1097, McGuinness +222, Mitchell +124

Cork South-West: Gallagher +274, Higgins +912, McGuinness +167, Mitchell +120

Galway West (Michael D’s home turf): Gallagher +268, Higgins +1068, McGuinness +210, Mitchell +116

Longford-Westmeath: Gallagher +362, Higgins +180, McGuinness +294, Mitchell +183

Cork North West: Gallagher +335, Higgins +750, McGuinness +168, Mitchell +82.

Neil Halligan, of the Longford Leader, on the tweet machine:

Both referendums also finished counting & both amendments are rejected. No official result until after #aras11

Tipp North: Gallagher +292, Higgins +710, McGuinness +185, Mitchell +126

We’re told that Wicklow has been finished, but that they won’t be giving a formal declaration from there until the results have been given in Dublin.

Dún Laoghaire: Gallagher +688, Higgins +3,264, McGuinness +317, Mitchell +444.

That’s a pretty huge bump for Higgins, in the home constituency of Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

Kildare South: Gallagher +400, Higgins +1055, McGuinness +207, Mitchell +172.

A surprised Tony Shine, in the comments field: “Did Higgins really get the fewest transfers from Norris in Longford-Westmeath?”

It was very possible that the figures could have been a typo, but … yes. Those are the figures. Higgins has done worst of the four candidates from the Norris transfers.

Limerick City: Gallagher +338, Higgins +1270, McGuinness +221, Mitchell +143

Dublin South East: Gallagher 374, Higgins 2476, McGuinness 264, Mitchell 298

Dublin South West: Gallagher 588, Higgins 1813, McGuinness 452, Mitchell 336

That should make, I think, 29 of the 43 third counts.

Dublin West: Gallagher +618, Higgins +1992, McGuinness +407, Mitchell +263.

Tipp North: Gallagher +280, Higgins +768, McGuinness +155, Mitchell +130

Alan Shatter is on Radio 1 and has conceded that Michael D’s win as a “stunning victory”, and compliments him on his “individualised approach to the world”. Make of that what you will.

Dublin North: Gallagher +491, Higgins +2020, McGuinness +373, Mitchell +280

Dublin South Central: Gallagher +565, Higgins +2698, McGuinness +578, Mitchell +516

The trend here, as you may have noticed, is that Higgins is doing phenomenally well – particularly in the urban areas – from Norris’s transfers.

Kildare North: Gallagher 644, Higgins 2016, McGuinness 319, Mitchell 268

Wicklow: Sean Gallagher +791, Higgins +2663, McGuinness +454, Mitchell +360

Back in Journal Towers – we jest, we don’t actually have towers – my colleague Emer McLysaght has been pulling together a gallery of today’s front pages, which have all been showcasing Michael D Higgins’ victory in their individual ways.

Some of the headlines, it should be said, are awesome.

Christine Downey, in the comments field, asks where she can find out how a particular constituency voted.

The full raw data is on the official elections website, but (time permitting) any readers can leave a comment below, asking for a particular constituency, and I’ll try to get the figures for you.

You might also check out our liveblogs from yesterday - Part 1Part 2 – where we posted each first count as they came in. (If you hit Control + F on your keyboard and type in the constituency name, you should get them pretty quickly.)

Now, while I get some more of the new results put together, here’s my quick interview with Joe Costello:

A teaser:

It was not to be expected that any party – particularly the junior party in government – would win two elections on the one day… The presidency is the prize that every party would love to have – it’s wonderful.

But it’s not just a prize, obviously, it’s a question that a candidate, Michael D Higgins, is way and beyond a political party member. He is somebody who has so much to offer in so many other areas, of course.

That’s what stood by him in the campaign: he had the experience of 40 years in politics in public life, but he also had so much experience of so much else that he’s done, which is outside the normal remit of a public representative.

Dublin Central: Gallagher +409, Higgins +2269 (the Joe Costello factor?), McGuinness +417, Mitchell +237

Dublin South: Gallagher 940, Higgins 3975, McGuinness 437, Mitchell 552

Laois-Offaly: Gallagher 804, Higgins 1775, McGuinness 438, Mitchell 308

There are four more I haven’t posted – two yet to type, and two yet to be published by the authorities here – but we understand that all 43 counts have now been completed.

Dublin Mid-West: Gallagher 559, Higgins 1810, McGuinness 466, Mitchell 313

Dublin North East: Gallagher 940, Higgins 3975, McGuinness 437, Mitchell 552

That leaves us with Dublin North-East, and Limerick (county), as the two yet to be published by the authorities here in Dublin Castle. It’s possible that we might not get those until after the full third count is announced here.

So – while we’re waiting for those two constituencies to file their results, we have some nuggets on the grapevine to bring you from the Oireachtas inquiries referendum.

In Limerick, voters in the city constituency have voted No – and the county constituency has voted Yes. That’s unofficial, of course, but it’s a sign of how just narrowly this referendum will be carried or defeated.

Staff in Citywest – where there are a number of counts continuing this morning – say each of their piles look like a narrow win for No.

The tech staff here in Dublin Castle have just been doing a sound check from the stage. It looks like we’ll have an official third count announcement pretty soon.

Here is the third count

OFFICIAL THIRD COUNT RESULTS:

Gallagher: +18972 = 548373 (31.2%)

Higgins: +62648 = 793128 (45.1%)

McGuinness: +12585 = 265196 (15.1%)

Mitchell: +8952 = 136309 (7.8%)

Mitchell and McGuinness are both eliminated – Mitchell loses his electoral expenses.

Right. So we are down to our last two candidates: independent Sean Gallagher, and Labour’s Michael D Higgins. Once the count staff get through the 401,505 ballot papers, and split them into three piles (Gallagher, Higgins and Non-Transferable), one of those two will be eliminated, and we have our final result.

For the sake of posterity, those two elusive Third Counts…

Dublin North-East: Gallagher +589, Higgins +1973, McGuinness +391, Mitchell +293

Limerick county: Gallagher +302, Higgins +801, McGuinness +153, Mitchell +100

“Just saw Sean Gallagher looking like a broken man on Baggot St,” texts a pal.

Of course, it’s completely understandable that Gallagher might be disappointed with how the election has slipped from his grasp. Still, though, a non-politician taking over half a million first preference votes… In hindsight, one might suspect that Gallagher will still ultimately be proud of his performance.

OK – we’ve had a quick grasp at the numbers. The constituency with the fewest votes to transfer is Dublin South East, which has 5,719 ballot papers to sort. The highest is Cavan-Monaghan, which as 17,197 – three times as many.

We may be a while. We shall see.

One of the things I had noticed about being here in Dublin Castle night was that even while they discussed the most solemn topics, the Labour party backroom teams were all very… satisfied looking. Every sentence is punctuated with smiles for the few dozen staff who have been working the phones, handling the press, and doing the bidding of Ireland’s soon-to-be-President-elect.

The reason I say it is because that feeling still hasn’t gone away, going by the looks on their faces this morning. They, like everyone, are exhausted at the end of this marathon – for most of them, it’s their second gruelling election this year – but they still just can’t stop smiling, as they continue to pore over the morning papers that will forever catalogue their achievement.

Compare all that, I suppose, to the picture of Gallagher (see 12.28) and you see, really, just what winning and losing means to the candidates in elections like these.

Dana, who I spoke to last night (see 22.02 of last night’s blog), was somewhere between the two: a mixture of exhaustion, after what was for her a particularly difficult campaign, and sheer elation that she had stuck it out and made it to results night.

While we’re waiting for some of the fourth counts to dribble in, it’s worth mentioning that many constituencies will actually have their referendum counts essentially finished: they simply can’t send a result to Dublin until the Presidential election has been completely wrapped up.

This means that we could have (some) results of the referenda almost immediately after Michael D’s official declaration.

Here’s the photo that’s on everyone’s lips (!) today: the rare moment of open elation from Ireland’s new First Couple.

The reason I post this snap – by Photocall Ireland’s Leon Farrell – just now, is because of the comparatively glum faces on Seán and Trish Gallagher behind the podium.

We’re still without any fourth counts, in case you’re wondering.

Labour councillor in Wexford, Joe Ryan, on Twitter:

Just heard #southeastradio announce that Martin McGuinness has been eliminated #aras11 Will the ceasefire now hold?

The more things change…

OK – 1.15pm. Let’s give you a lunchtime update:

  • With three counts completed, just two candidates officially remain in the Race for the Aras: Michael D Higgins and Seán Gallagher. Staff in 43 constituencies around the country are now in the process of sorting over 400,000 ballot papers, after the elimination of Gay Mitchell and Martin McGuinness. David Norris was eliminated after the second count last night, while Dana and Mary Davis were eliminated on the first count. Only three – Higgins, Gallagher and McGuinness – are entitled to a refund of electoral expenses.
  • The Dublin West by-election, if you missed it, ended pretty late last night: Labour’s Patrick Nulty came out on top after a marathon dispute between the Socialist Party’s Ruth Coppinger and Fianna Fáil’s David McGuinness. After the fourth count, Coppinger was 18 votes behind McGuinness and due to be eliminated. After a comprehensive recheck, Coppinger and McGuinness had drawn level – but Coppinger was still eliminated, by virtue of a lower first preference vote.
  • Counting in the two referendums has not yet begun, because count centres have been told to submit their fourth counts in the Presidential election first. Many staff have already informally counted their votes, however, with the Oireachtas Inquiries referendum likely be a very close call. The referendum on judges’ pay will be carried.

Brendan Howlin is waxing lyrical on RTÉ News. President Michael D, he says, “can project a notion of Ireland - not anchored in the balloon of the econony, but something which is a little bit more essential.”

He once had to follow Michael D at a speaker at a function in the US, where he was described “as the Irish ‘minister of the imagination’ – he is now the President of the imagination of all of us.”

How is the Oireachtas enquiries referendum going to go? “I don’t know,” Howlin simply says, saying there was no tally in his home constituency of Wexford.

That’s funny – on Morning Ireland this morning he said that a tally, which had given the No side a 55-45 win, had been proven incorrect.

Taoiseach: Enda Kenny. Mayo. Graduate of: NUI Galway.

Tánaiste: Eamon Gilmore. Originally from Galway East. Graduate of: NUI Galway.

President: Michael D Higgins. Galway West. Graduate of… NUI Galway.

The west is awake. And that’s before you think of the Attorney General, Máire Whelan, who is not an NUIG alumnus but who IS from Galway.

Still nothing official in the line of Fourth Counts.

There was another sound-check just there, prompting a few hastily raised eyebrows – and the potential indication of a VERY early fourth count result. Alas – it was a note that somebody had lost their iPhone. Hope it wasn’t an expensive new iPhone 4S

And just like that, we have FOUR fourth counts to bring you. Stand by.

Cork South-Central: Gallagher +1995, Higgins +6026.

Donegal South-West: Gallagher +2619, Higgins +4256

Dublin West: Gallagher +1390, Higgins +3839

Tipp South: Gallagher +1454, Higgins +4041

Two more:

Cork North Central: Gallagher +2015, Higgins +5462

Dublin North Central: Gallagher +1157, Higgins +3864

It’s around about now that we run into a bit of a problem: many of the count teams need to break for lunch. Those first six came pretty quickly, but the rest may well be held up to give the staff a chance to eat. Bear in mind that some of those count teams haven’t yet started sorting referendum votes yet, so they are facing into a long evening and will relish a chance to break first.

Apologies to the Westerners among you: I somehow managed not to credit Máire Whelan as being an NUIG alumnus either (see 13:30). Both her BA in political science, and her master’s in law, are from the college.

The west is, it appears, very much awake.

It’s becoming clear, from the six constituencies who have sent in votes so far, that Michael D Higgins will make the quota on this count. That, of course, has no practical difference – if he didn’t make the quota, Gallagher’s elimination would leave him the winner by default – but it may be some solace for Gallagher, who will not have to be ‘eliminated’. Instead, he will merely have been ‘not elected’.

The difference is nil, but it may be some comfort for a deflated runner-up (see 12:28).

Brendan Howlin is here, bringing hearty greetings for Joe Costello, Michael D Higgins’ campaign manager. “Joe, congratulations. Well done. Fantastic,” he says, shaking Costello’s hand and patting his back sharply.

He’s also been speaking about the prospect of the Oireachtas Inquiries referendum being beaten, and we’ll have his remarks shortly.

Galway East: Gallagher +1517, Higgins +5184

Mayo: Gallager +2174, Higgins +8024

Meath West: Gallagher +1583, Higgins +3981

Sligo-North Leitrim: Gallagher +1814, Higgins +4594

Clare: Gallagher +1,468, Higgins +5,169

Limerick City: Gallagher +1040, Higgins +4011

I have every sympathy for Miguel Delaney, who has been accidentally posting some of his soccer updates onto this story by accident… I was doing the same thing earlier today. If you’re now piqued by the flurry of scores between Arsenal and Chelsea, all the action is over here.

While I’ve been transcribing the Howlin stuff – some very interesting thoughts to follow, I promise! – we have more results to bring you:

Cork North-West: Gallagher 1,568, Higgins 4,486
Cork South-West: Gallagher 1,844, Higgins 4,553
Donegal North-East: Gallagher 2,644, Higgins 4,159
Dublin Mid-West: Gallagher 1,590, Higgins 4,623
Dublin South: Gallagher 1,823, Higgins 6,816
Dublin South Central: Gallagher 2,329, Higgins 7,360

And all of that means a landmark: Michael D Higgins has now officially reached the quota.

Cork East: Gallagher +2001, Higgins +5067

Dublin North East: Gallagher +1,341, Higgins +4,006

Galway West: Gallagher 1,448, Higgins 5,332

Kerry South: Gallagher 1,428, Higgins 4,299

Kildare South: Gallagher +1243, Higgins +3153

Roscommon-South Leitrim: Gallagher +1,947, Higgins +4,372

It’s close. It’s very, very close now. More fourth count results shortly…

Right. We’re about to switch over to a new afternoon liveblog, to take care of the declaration itself and the aftermath of it. You’ll find the rest of the day’s activities – from 3:15pm til nighttime - over here. See you shortly.

Liveblogs: the 2011 Presidential election, Day 2: Part 2 >

Liveblogs: the 2011 Presidential election, Day 1: Part 1, Part 2 >

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