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Leo Varadkar at the final main Fine Gael press conference of their General Election Campaign in the Institute of Technology, Carlow Town. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/

Taoiseach runs second to Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin West, as first election counts are announced

Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin look set to retain seats, but not expected to top polls.

WITH THE FIRST of the election counts being announced in many constituencies, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have not topped the polls in their respective constituencies, with both being overtaken by Sinn Féin candidates.

Leo Varadkar is the first outgoing Taoiseach in Ireland not to top the poll.

In Dublin, Sinn Féin’s Paul Donnelly came out top in Dublin West, knocking Varadkar into second place, with the first count of that constituency just announced.

Varadkar had topped the poll there in 2016, ahead of Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers. 

Today’s figures show a very different picture, as Donnelly was deemed elected with a whopping 12,456 votes and the Taoiseach well behind him on 8,478 in the first count, missing the quota. 

Donnelly, a Sinn Féin councillor, failed to take seats in 2011 and 2016, taking 6.11% and 14.38%, respectively.

Former tánaiste Joan Burton also looks set to lose her seat, trailing with just 2096 votes on the first count.

Speaking to reporters, Donnelly said he was thrilled after a “massive” vote.

“We are talking to people, they heard the message that we were trying to sell in terms of housing and health, in terms of finance and managing the economy.

“People want something different, they told me time and time again they look at Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and they see the same. They have experienced the same and they don’t believe the manifestos they were seeing.”

The Dublin West surprise is something that is being echoed in many constituencies around the country, where Sinn Féin candidates are polling better than expected.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is also suffering a similar fate in Cork South Central, where Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has just topped the poll, beating Martin to take the first seat as the first round of voting was announced.

With the quota in that constituency at 11,429, Ó Laoghaire took the first seat on 14,057 votes, with Martin on 11,023, missing a seat in the first round.

Ó Laoghaire did win a seat in Cork South Central for Sinn Féin in 2016, taking the fourth seat with 12.55% of the votes.

This is new territory for the Fianna Fáil party in Cork South Central, where Martin and his running mate Michael McGrath have taken the top two seats in that constituency in the last three elections.

According to the first count, it does look as if the party will take two seats, with Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney to take the fourth. 

Exit poll

The writing was all but on the wall last night when the Ipsos MRBI exit poll showed huge gains for Sinn Féin.

It recorded a dead heat between Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, all on around 22%.

With these initial count numbers, Sinn Féin is now predicted to take over 30 seats in this election. 

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