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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 19 February, 2020
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The doctor's long wait: Will James Reilly lose his seat in Dublin Fingal?

It’s down to the wire for the Fine Gael deputy leader, at the National Show Centre. Counting’s back under way at 10am.

Updated at 1.05am
We lost Alan Shatter of course, earlier today. We’re hoping we don’t lose James as well.

— A FINE GAEL source speaking to TheJournal.ie at the Dublin Fingal count centre earlier tonight wasn’t overly confident the party’s deputy leader would take a seat. But he wasn’t ruling it out entirely either.

Since early in the morning, it’s looked likely Dr James Reilly could be on his way out of the Dáil.

Opinion as to his fate has swung back and forth in the intervening hours.

And the fact that there was a long, long delay before the first count could even be announced did little for the nerves of the Fine Gael team camped out at the National Show Centre, not far from the airport.

What’s happening?

Reflecting the national trend, it’s been a good day for Fianna Fáil and ‘independents and others’ in the north Dublin constituency.

Darragh O’Brien, the FF senator, topped the poll and claimed the first seat. Socialist TD turned independent Clare Daly joined him in the Dáil at around 10pm, and the next two seats look likely to go to Labour’s Brendan Ryan and FG’s Alan Farrell.
https://vine.co/v/i620p1xwVt0

The emerging wisdom earlier was that it was a two-way battle for the last seat between Reilly and the Sinn Féin candidate, Louise O’Reilly. But Fianna Fáil’s second candidate Lorraine Clifford-Lee started coming back into the mix as the evening wore on.

It was thought the transfers of Gerry Molloy of Renua could help Reilly – but he received only a slight boost from that elimination.

The Green Party candidate’s votes are the latest to have been redistributed. But around an hour after that count started, as the results were about to be read out, chatter began to emerge about a possible recheck of ballots.

That official request was made by Councillor Barry Martin’s team just before 1am, as only a few votes separated him and Clifford-Lee.

It’s still likely Martin – a running mate of Daly – will be next eliminated.

Speaking to this website just before she left the count centre at 1am Clifford-Lee said she was still hopeful of overtaking James Reilly to finish in sixth place in the five-seater.

Earlier, Daly said she expected Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would form an administration in the coming weeks, observing:

“I know that’s not the popular view, but the price of power is a compelling matchmaker.”

On whether or not Reilly would be part of that coalition, she said she wouldn’t rule him out (note – this was at around 10pm, her analysis may well have changed):

I’ve no idea, I was very surprised to hear this morning… I would have given him, before this, I would have given him the third seat so I’m kind of shocked. He’s proved transfer-unfriendly so far but that may change with some of the more right-wing people who are about to be eliminated.

Source: Daragh Brophy/YouTube

With staff tiring, the returning officer made the decision to begin again at 10am.

But at this stage, it’s really not looking good for Reilly.

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