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Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Sam Boal/ Labour's Ivana Bacik celebrating with family and supporters after winning the Dublin Bay South by-election.
AS IT HAPPENED: Labour's Ivana Bacik elected in Dublin Bay South after topping the poll
After maintaining a lead all day Bacik was deemed elected on the ninth count.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 9th 2021, 9:10 PM

LABOUR’S IVANA BACIK has been elected in the Dublin Bay South by-election after topping the poll.

Bacik beat Fine Gael’s James Geoghegan into second place on the first count and maintained that position when transfers were distributed.

The Senator, who has run for the Dáil on a number of occasions without previously being elected, will become the seventh TD on the Labour benches.

It represents a significant victory for the party and a poor result for Fine Gael which now has no representation in the area. 

Morning all! Rónán Duffy here to take you through the tallies, trends and (hopefully) some tantrums as well. 

That might be a bit much to ask of a one seat by-election, but given it’s the first electoral test of this government and we’re still three years away from a local election, it feels like this a fair bit riding on this. 

So far, we have a handful of tallies from a variety of sources but nothing yet to draw any meaningful conclusions from in terms of a result. 

In terms of timings we don’t know anything definitively on when we’ll get a final result, or even a first count, but on the latter question we’re probably talking the afternoon sometime. 

The overall length will then depend on how close things are. 

Image from iOS (4) The Journal Cahill speaking to gardaí outside the RDS. The Journal

A mask or face covering is required for all within the RDS count centre as part of various Covid-19 measures. 

Our Political Correspondent Christina Finn is down there and reports that candidate Dolores Cahill is refusing to wear a mask inside the building and is therefore being refused access. 

Cahill is a former Irish Freedom Party candidate from last year’s general election who has spread conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Finn reports that she is berating gardaí outside the count centre and saying: ‘This is our country, this is democracy.” 

Back inside to where the actual action is and so far there are 15 of 106 election boxes tallied. 

A tally, by the way, is an unofficial count of votes as they’re sorted that’s carried out by parties and observers. It is not an officially recognised result.

Tallies are usually very accurate though and can provide a fascinating insight into how people vote in specific areas (more on that later). 

So far what we’ve seen from the tallies from 15 boxes is that the predicted top three are just that: 

  • Boylan (SF) – 31.5%
  • Bacik (Lab) – 25.7%
  • Geoghegan (FG) – 16.6%

What must be emphasised is that these tallies cover just individual boxes in different polling centres and are likely not well spread. So candidates who perform well in specific areas will look inflated. 

It’s a good early indicator but that’s it. 

If you want to actually watch all the goings on, the Dublin City Returning Officer is streaming the count here.

One of those ideas that you’d think might continue when the pandemic is over.  

Turnout is key in general elections but it is especially key in by-elections where there is usually just one seat up for grabs rather than the three to five there is in a general. 

It means if a party can get its vote out in a low turnout by-election it will stand a good chance of winning. 

In the four by-elections that took place in late 2019, Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward took a seat in Dublin Mid West. He subsequently held the seat in the general, one of only three constituencies where the party took more than one seat. 

Speaking to The Journal last month, Adrian Kavanagh of Maynooth University said that the party could have a chance of winning the seat if the turnout is very low. 

He says here now based on early tallies that the turnout is perhaps not as low as the Dublin Mid West vote 20 months ago. 

Just a reminder that this by-election is to fill the seat vacated by Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy. 

Fine Gael had two seats in this four-seat constituency after the 2016 general election but Kate O’Connell lost her seat in 2020. 

Murphy and O’Connell together pulled in 27.7% of the vote for Fine Gael in last year’s general election, with suggestions that their candidate here James Geoghegan might need closer to 30% to hold off challengers. 

We’re still waiting on some of the boxes that may be very Fine Gael friendly to be opened but at present he seems to be tallying in the mid-20s. 

Pollster Kevin Cunningham of Ireland Thinks is predicting he’ll end up at somewhere around 26%.

PastedImage-1479 Ian Richardson Ian Richardson

Ian Richardson, a data scientist and tally expert, has his live tally count up and running and it’s probably as close to CNN’s magic wall as we get here in this country. 

The map shows that there are still large areas (in grey) where we are awaiting tallies. The above graphic shows which party is leading in each local area. 

Richardson spoke to The Journal last month and explained that looking at local tallies from one election to another can provide a more accurate picture than merely looking at headline figures. 

More chat from the count centre about when this thing might be finished. 

Apparently, the RDS is booked out from tomorrow night to count expat votes in Moldova’s parliamentary election. 

So any talk of going late into tomorrow might have to be nipped in the bud now to get this thing done. 

Christina Finn tells me it’s “a bit sterile” down in the RDS.

“Much to be expected, I suppose,” she says.

So where are we at? Well, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan has taken the lead in early tallies. Areas where it is expected to have a strong Sinn Féin following are showing strong vote, while Fine Gael’s ‘blue wall’ areas are still to be opened. With nearly 50% of the boxes opened, tallies showing FF have less than 4% of the vote. That will be tough for them to take.

Some images from the count centre this morning. 

Byelection Count 005 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Byelection Count 003 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Byelection Count 012 Leah Farrell / Dolores Cahill refused access for refusing to wear a mask. Leah Farrell / /

Labour TDs and Senators are tentatively starting to claim victory, looks all over bar the masked and likely subdued shouting. 

Hello, Gráinne here taking over the Liveblog for a bit to give Rónán a bit of a by-election breather.

An interesting point has been made by Labour’s director of elections, TD Duncan Smith, who has told the Irish Times at the count centre that Bacik has been an “exceptional candidate”.

That will raise questions of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in particular – should Fine Gael have picked Kate O’Connell as their candidate (hard not to answer this with anything but a resounding yes), and was Deirdre Conroy the best candidate Fianna Fáil had to offer?

If this by-election is to be taken as a gauge of how the public feel about the Government, and it’s handling of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the housing crisis, you’d have to say they have fared poorly. 

This is traditionally a Fine Gael heartland, where they almost won two seats in the last election; where the Greens’ leader topped the poll last year, and where Fianna Fáil’s next leader may be from. There will be a lot of soul-searching among the Government parties. 

Though this is a much-needed boost for the Labour party, who held two seats in this four-seater constituency not long ago, Bacik has been repeatedly referred to as an ‘exceptional’ candidate during this by-election – meaning this may have been a personal vote for the activist-barrister-lecturer, rather than for the party she bears the banner of.

Bacik edging out in front of Geoghegan on the first count is a relief to those who have to write and analyse the result in time for weekend editions, as it had been expected to be a much closer competition between the two.

Some are already getting started on what went right/wrong in the by-election…

Remember, it’s a Friday, and analysis of what went wrong and right for the parties and candidates.

There is some seriously efficient counting going on at the RDS all the same.

If predictions of Bacik’s super transfer-friendliness is realised, we’ll have a result before the working day is out – possibly by 6pm.

Rónán Duffy back here just in time to see that Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has arrived at the RDS.

She’s there with party candidate Lynn Boylan who congratulates Ivana Bacik on her impending win. 

McDonald says the government “is on borrowed time” and that her party “performed very, very well” despite not taking the seat. 

Bear in mind folks that there was a time and it’s not a long time ago where the idea of Sinn Féin having a seat in Dublin Bay South would have been unthinkable amongst all of you political analysts and commentators. Now we have demonstrated that our base is very, very solid, our seat is solid and we still have huge prospects for growth. 

Labour leader Alan Kelly now here too.

Here’s clearly a very happy man and says that Bacik is someone who has been “admired” within the party for many years. 

For us in the Labour party is was a hugely mobilising campaign involving people from literally every corner of Ireland from Kerry to Donegal, we had so many canvassers we didn’t know what to do with them. It was a hugely energetic campaign and it was a positive campaign. There’s been a lot of talk about the types of campaigns that were run at the beginning and towards the end of this by-election but Labour and Ivan ran a fantastic positive campaign.

The Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party are disappointed with the “not good” result of less than 5% of first-preference votes. 

Political Correspondent Christina Finn reports that Jim O’Callaghan is accepting responsibility for the bad ballot day, but not exclusively – he adds that the election “wasn’t about me”.

“I don’t have answers for you today to explain why,” he says, and notes that the result is reflective of Fianna Fáil’s, eh, fall nationally in the polls.

O’Callaghan is coming out all guns blazing outside the count centre, a sign of how bad the downward electoral spiral the party has faced in recent years.

The prospective next leader of the party and Dublin Bay South TD said that he may have more answers in a month or so. Be sure he’ll be held to that.

When asked if Micheál Martin should lead the party into the next election, he says: “It depends on when the next general election is.”

When suggested if the election was in 2024-25, he replied: “We’ll have to think about that.”

Meanwhile, Green Party candidate Claire Byrne and Fine Gael candidate James Geoghegan have arrived at the count centre  – a sign of the first-count declaration being imminent.

PastedImage-45312 dublincityreturningofficer dublincityreturningofficer


Bacik leads Geoghegan by over 1,000 votes and it’s looking even better for the Labour candidate. 

There were 27,044 votes cast, with 162 of those invalid. The total valid poll is 26,882, meaning the quota is 13,442.
The first-count results are:
  • Ivana Bacik (L): 8,131
  • James Geoghegan (FG): 7,052 
  • Lynn Boylan (SF): 4,245
  • Claire Byrne (G): 2,157
  • Deirdre Conroy (FF): 1,247
  • Mannix Flynn (Ind): 879
  • Sarah Durcan (SD): 849
  • Mairéad Tóibín (Aontú): 740
  • Brigid Purcell (SBPB): 759
  • Peter Dooley (Ind): 261
  • Justin Barrett (NP): 183
  • Dolores Cahill (Ind): 169
  • Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua): 164
  • John Keigher (Ind): 23
  • Colm O’Keefe (Ind): 23

The second count is now also in after the elimination of John Keigher (Ind) and Colm O’Keefe (Ind).

They each have just 23 votes so their transfers won’t make much difference to the overall totals, but for what it’s worth Byrne (Green) picked up the most votes from them with 7. 

Renua’s Jacqui Gilbourne will now be eliminated. 

This is what the totals now look like thanks to Fianna Fáil tallier Stephen Kearon.

Count 3 sees the transfer of the votes from Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua), with Mairéad Tóibín the biggest beneficiary. 

Dolores Cahill (Ind), who earlier was refused entry to the count centre for not wearing a mask, is the next to be eliminated. 

Justin Barrett (NP) and Peter Dooley (Ind) have also been eliminated. 

Fine Gael’s James Geoghegan has said he will be seeking to run again to be a TD in Dublin Bay South.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told reporters that there’s no doubt Geoghegan will be a TD for the constituency if he runs in the next general election. 

Varadkar also said that there isn’t a question mark over his ability to win elections and lead the party following the results of this by-election.

Gráinne Ní Aodha here back on the Liveblog for the final stretch – just in time for Ivana Bacik’s excited arrival at the count centre.

We’re still thousands of votes off reaching the quota…

Here’s Dublin Bay South’s latest TD.

Dublin Bay South has a “strong, progressive, woman’s voice” in the Dáil, Bacik says.

The Green Party have arrived. 

Claire Byrne says she’s happy with the election result endorsing the Greens in government – despite the Green Party’s support falling from 22% garnered by its leader Eamon Ryan last year, to 8% for Byrne this week.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman says that the party would have liked more first-preference votes, but that Bacik had captured the zeitgeist.

 We’ve had count 4 and count 5 – Brigid Purcell and Mairéad Tóibín eliminated. 

We’re almost at the business end of the counting now, with thousands of votes to be distributed, rather than the hundreds that have been until now.

  • You can watch the live feed of the count centre and the announcements here.
  • Or you can monitor the beautifully organised spreadsheet by Virgin Media News’ Gavan Reilly here, if you’re into the pure numbers.

Ah, democracy.

Speaking of number crunching, Ireland Thinks’ Kevin Cunningham has made this interesting observation: Bacik won votes from a good chunk of Green voters.

‘Watermelon Greens’, green on the outside but red on the inside, is used to describe Green voters who care more about social justice issues than environmental issues.

The sixth count sees Sarah Durcan eliminated, with her 1,111 votes to be transferred to the six remaining candidates. 

Those analysis columns are coming in nice and early, thanks to Bacik’s resounding win.

When the former housing and local government minister Eoghan Murphy was preparing election rules for during a pandemic, there was some suggestion that it was an indication of the collapse of the current coalition. 

In hindsight, things look a little different now – and perhaps the coalition is more stable than had been suspected.

All the same, you’d wonder where Eoghan Murphy is now, and what he makes of it all.

Possibly busy preparing for another appearance on Armenia’s version of Prime Time (he’s heading up an election observation mission there in his post-Dáil life)…

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The 7th count has seen two candidates eliminated: Independent Mannix Flynn and Fianna Fáil’s Deirdre Conroy.

Their collective votes of 2,183 is hoped to speed the count along.

Ivana Bacik is on 8,851, with Geoghegan on 7,400.

Le Chéile, a group that promotes ‘diversity not division’, has sent in a press release to say that it is pleased that the people of Dublin Bay South rejected “the message and candidates of the far right”.

“It is clear that the purveyors of racism, division, and right-wing conspiracy theories have made no headway. These forces often claim to speak in the name of the Irish people.

“This by-election result shows this is completely false.”

The eighth count has seen the elimination of Green Party candidate Claire Byrne, and Sinn Féin candidate Lynn Boylan. Together, the two candidates have 8,222 votes, to be distributed between the final two candidates, Bacik and Geoghegan.

Bacik is currently on 9,474, and Geoghegan is on 8,265.

We’re into the home stretch here and Ivana Bacik has arrived at the RDS ahead of her being elected as Dublin Bay South’s newest TD.

RTÉ’s Mary Regan has shared footage of the Labour politician’s triumphant arrival at the count centre.

And it’s official! Ivana Bacik has been elected in Dublin South. She amassed a total of 13,382 votes. Geoghegan finished with a total of 9,235 votes.

Bacik received the lion’s share of Lynn Boylan’s transfers, taking 3,908 from the Sinn Féin candidate. She still fell a bit short of the quota, but was deemed elected by the returning officer. Geoghegan picked up just 970 votes from Boylan.

Virgin Media’s Gavan Reilly caught the moment Bacik was finally elected to the Dáil.

With the election endorphins still pumping, Labour leader Alan Kelly has called on the government to “act on the message of change from voters on housing and childcare”.

He added that the result showed there was an alternative in Labour to the divisive politics of other parties.

“This election was about the need for change, especially in care and housing and our call a stronger role for the state, and increased investment in public services to renew the social contract,” Kelly said.

We want action from the government on housing, we want improved rights for renters, we want to stop funds gazumping first time buyers, we want to invest in our public services, and deliver long standing Labour policies like universal childcare.

So, it’s all over after a fascinating campaign in Dublin Bay South with Ivana Bacik elected as the constituency’s newest TD.

The result leaves Fine Gael with no representation in the constituency, where it had two TDs as recently as February 2020. 

The result has taken a chip out of the government’s majority and ratcheted up the pressure on Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

The political ramifications look set to be fascinating.

To read about how Labour pulled off the upset victory, check out this piece from Christina Finn.

Read Rónán Duffy’s piece for insight into what Bacik plans to do in Dáil Eireann

And if you’re curious about the fate of Bacik’s Seanad seat check out this article from Jane Moore.

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