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The nation has voted - now here's your guide to when we'll find out the results

It probably will be after the weekend when we find out who fills what seats.

Image: Leah Farrell/


The ballots are closed, and Ireland has chosen 949 councillors, 13 MEPs and decided on the divorce referendum while the cities of Cork, Waterford and Limerick have also decided if they want to directly elect a mayor in their city.

Counting will get under way in earnest from this afternoon onwards as the candidates wait and see if they’ve been successful.

There’s a lot going on, so here’s your guide to how the count and when we can expect results – with the added caveat that it’s difficult to gauge when exactly things will get under way. 

Local elections

So, first things first, when the boxes open at 9am this morning the initial task will be to separate the votes out.

Most of people who voted will have cast three ballots – in the local elections, European elections and the divorce referendum. In Cork, Limerick and Waterford, people will have also voted on the directly-elected mayor plebiscite.

It’ll take quite a while to separate all those out, however, because as they separate them into each pile, they must ensure the amount of votes in each boxes tallies with the figure they have for how many votes were cast.

That’ll likely last into the afternoon. understands that counting won’t get under way in many areas until around 3-4pm at the earliest.

In Dublin, local election votes will be counted in the area they were cast in but in the likes of Clare, votes will be counted in the referendum vote first before moving on to the locals.

This means that counting in some areas for the local elections won’t get under way until late Saturday evening or even potentially into Sunday morning. 

Early tallies in the first few hours will give us a good indication of how things are going, e.g. which parties are polling well, which party it’s looking bad for etc.

But with 949 council seats to fill, it won’t be quick.

The counting will persist long into the evening and following day as – even with all the boxes open – candidates begin to be eliminated and transfers are made in order of preference.

By 11.39pm on the Saturday evening in 2014, only around 200 of the 949 councillors were confirmed as winning seats. It could be even less at the same time this year. 

A candidate can be elected on the first count, but it could be several counts until all the seats are filled. In Ballymun-Finglas, for example, 17 candidates are vying for six seats in a competitive field.

In the north inner city of Dublin, it’s similar with seven seats up for grabs and 21 candidates aiming to win one.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, candidates will be filling seats across the 31 local authorities.

And it could go on even longer. By the Monday in 2014, there were still just under 40 council seats still to be filled. Again, there could be even more left unfilled by Monday morning this time around. 

Either way, those counting the votes, and the anxious candidates waiting to see if they were elected, are set for a long weekend.

European elections

The MEP hopefuls also have a long wait before they’ll find out their fate, with counting not set to get under way until Sunday morning in the three count centres in Dublin, Cork and Castlebar. The ballots for the European elections will have been transported overnight, ready for counting at 9am.

Elections are being held all over Europe – including in the UK – for new members of the European parliament throughout the weekend.

Many countries traditionally hold elections on Sundays, so Ireland will be ahead of much of Europe in terms of when we’re voting.

However, we have to wait until the rest of Europe has decided before declaring our result.

Exit polls will give us a good indication of how it’s gone, but the counting will get under way in earnest throughout Sunday with no official results given until past 10pm that evening. 

And, as all three – Ireland South, Midlands North West and Dublin – are massive constituencies, the embargo on results until 10pm may not matter all that much – as it takes that long to count them.

In fact, in 2014, it wasn’t until the Monday afternoon that we had a first count finished in Midlands North West as it lagged behind counts in the other two constituencies. 

However, from the early evening time, you should see candidates conceding if both the exit polls and early tallies haven’t gone their way. 

It’ll also be well into the week before all 13 seats are filled.

Divorce referendum

Counting of votes in the divorce referendum is set to get under way after the boxes are opened and votes separated at 9am alongside the local elections at the various count centres across the country.

Just as a reminder, people were voting whether or not to remove from the Constitution wording to do with the length of time that a couple is required to live apart before divorcing. 

If the people vote to remove this from the Constitution, the government has said it will legislate to change the current amount of time from four years to two.

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The national overall result will be declared from the Central Count Centre in Dublin Castle by referendum returning officer Barry Ryan.

And when will we have a result? That depends on the turnout of course, but it’s likely to be late in the evening today before a result is announced.

With this referendum being conducted alongside local and European elections, as well as the plebiscites in Waterford, Cork and Limerick, votes will have to be segregated before they can be counted.

This could carry on until as late as 11pm but a result is likely around 8-9pm.


Counting will likely take longer in the cities of Limerick, Waterford and Cork as an extra vote is taking place here – the plebiscite on whether or not to have a directly-elected mayor for the cities.

That’ll mean extra time spent on Saturday morning separating out the four votes that have taken place.

It’s understood the votes here will take a similar form to the referendum with early tallies likely to provide a strong indicator of how it’s gone – unless it’s extremely close.

But, counting here won’t likely be done until Monday at the earliest after all the other votes have been counted.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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