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Liveblog: Michael D Higgins elected President - as it happened

With the support of over a million voters, Michael D Higgins was named Ireland’s ninth president in Dublin Castle. Here’s how a historical day’s events unfolded.

We were live in Dublin Castle as Michael D Higgins was been elected Ireland’s ninth president.

This blog carries proceedings from 3pm onward – you’ll find the morning’s activities here, and yesterday’s action split into two parts here and here.

Now – welcome back to Part 2 of our rolling liveblog, with all the results as they continue. We’re live in Dublin Castle where an announcement on Michael D Higgins’ victory is now just minutes away.

A few more fourth count results to bring you:

Cavan Monaghan: Gallagher 5041, Higgins 7474

Dun Laoghaire: Gallagher +1409, Higgins +5090
Kerry North-West Limerick: Gallagher +1525, Higgins +4489

Louth: Gallagher 3154, Higgins 7250

Wexford: Gallagher 2777, Higgins 6514

Dublin South-East: Gallagher 899, Higgins 3582

Limerick county: Gallagher 1,413, Higgins 4,352

Longford Westmeath: Gallagher 2,101, Higgins 5,616

Dublin Central: Gallagher 1171, Higgins 3558

Dublin North: Gallagher 1,336, Higgins 3,881

Dublin North-West: Gallagher 1370, Higgins 3397

Laois-Offaly: Gallagher 2877, Higgins 6208

Waterford: Gallagher 1845, Higgins 4781

We are awaiting just five more contituencies: Carlow-Kilkenny, Dublin South-West, Kildare North, Meath East and Tipperary North.

And, crucially, the staff are doing their soundcheck. Our announcement is now just moments away.

The Labour press team, who are sat behind me, are getting very excited. And, indeed, rightfully so.

Dublin South West: Gallagher 1919, Higgins 4861

Carlow-Kilkenny: Gallagher 2616, Higgins 7217

Meath East: Gallagher 1414, Higgins 4000

Just Kildare North and Tipp North to go.

Whenever we get either of those two outstanding counts, Michael D Higgins will have surpassed one million votes.

Still no official word from the authorities here on those last two constituencies. If it’s like every other count, we might not get them until after the whole thing is announced.

The candidates are beginning to arrive. Dana and her husband Damien are here, as are Sean and Trish Gallagher – who have been exchanging cordial and friendly handshake with the Labour ministers, who are outside (with their own families) awaiting the arrival of the winner.

Sean Gallagher has been speaking to the media – we’ll have his comments in a moment.

Sean Gallagher:

Today is a day not for postmortems, but for celebration for Michael D and his family, and I’m fully behind him on anything I can do to support him in carrying out his role.

…I’m not disappointed. In fact, I’m energised… We built a tremendously powerful team, and anything the team lacked in political experience they made up for in commitment, and passion.

More from Sean Gallagher:

I think we ran a good campaign, with no negative campaigning, with a great result. And I’m very proud of that, and proud of the team, and most importantly I’m proud of the volunteers in every single part of the country, who believed in the message of positivity and confidence. For me, that augers well for Ireland.

The final tallies – in Kildare North: Gallagher 1345, Higgins 4237.

From Tipperary North: Gallagher 1778, Higgins 4672.

And all of that means that the final result of the fourth count is thus:

- Sean Gallagher: 628114
- Michael D Higgins: 1007014

Michael D Higgins, having reached the quota (of 885882), will be deemed elected.

We’ll have our formal declaration in around ten minutes. Until then, we’ll await the arrival of Higgins, Mitchell, McGuinness, Norris and Davis.

The Gallaghers are readying for a live TV interview with Miriam, while Dana stands by and awaits her turn.

More from Gallagher’s quick blurb:

Would you run again?

Today is not a day for making decisions like that – everyone will tell you that today is a day for celebration… it is an end of one journey, and possibly the beginning of another.

You’re not ruling it out…

I’m not making any decisions about anything – other than maybe taking a few days off.

Martin McGuinness is here, just as the Gallaghers just finish their TV interview. They are met with a hearty round of applause from their team, who are assembled behind the camera.

It seems like we’re just awaiting the last candidate or two to arrive. The Army Officers are here, which is a good sign that their Commander-in-Chief-Elect is about to be named.

Dana tells RTÉ she’s “really glad that I’m here” and stuck it out until the end. “Really?!”, asks a slightly stunned Miriam.

Here’s the Gallagher clan’s valedictorian photo:

How as it been for Damien Scallon? “I’d have to say it was tough campaign… but once she made up her mind to stay, there was no question of it… here we are, thank God.”

Patrick Nulty TD, Dublin West, 28: ”I come from a generation that has been at the front of the economic challenges that have faced our country.” He wants to be part of the generation that meets those challenges.

Michael D is in the house.

It’s game time. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and seven candidates are here.

Here we go. The fourth count:

Sean Gallagher: +79741 = 628114

Michael D Higgins +213976 = 1007104

As the Returning Officer reaches the word ‘million’, the crowd give a ‘woooo’. The million had been a target for the team.

As Michael D Higgins has reached the quota, he is deemed to be elected as the President of Ireland.

And now we get it again, in English.

As he has reached the quota, I hereby declare – again – Michael D Higgins elected to the office of President of Ireland.

Some words from Sean Gallagher, beginning with thanks for the counting staff.

This was a very challenging and at times intense campaign, but all of us share one intense spirit: a deep-rooted desire to help Ireland… and all of its people.

Today is a great day… I wish them health and happiness for the next even years. Michael D ran a superb campaign with dignity and decorum, and I know his slogan, ‘a president we can be proud of’ – I have no doubt that Michael D will be an outstanding Ninth President of Ireland.

More from Sean Gallagher:

I stepped forward for one reason, because I believe in Ireland…

I want to thank one last person… one person I want to pick out, and that is the rock of my campaign, my wife Trish, who has been an enduring rock of sense and support.

I celebrate and congratulate all the candidates who stood forward instead of stepping back.

I know you will do us proud as the ninth president of Ireland. Go well, sir.

Martin McGuinness begins by thanking the electoral staff nationwide, and to the Gardaí who presided over it all.

It’s been a real privilege and honour for me to stand for the Presidency of my country, and it has been the experience of a lifetime. I think it’s also been an eye-opener for many people, but that’s for another day!

He thanks the 250,000+ people who voted for him, his wife Bernie and his four children, and “a particular word of congratulation” to Michael D, Sabina and the family.

Michael D will be, in my opinion, a very very fine president… I have every confidence that he will be Ireland’s greatest president.

The work of reconciliation has begun on this island and I believe Michael D, among others [...] will continue to build bridges…

It’s been absolutely wonderful, and I’m delighted to be here today. [Michael D is] a fine man who will do us proud in the future.

David Norris starts as Gaeilge - he’s very happy to be here, and congratulates the Higgins family.

“This is a great day. The ninth President of Ireland will be one of our greatest, if not our greatest.” They knew each other for “more years than I care to remember,” Norris jokes.

I’m delighted he’s been elected. He is a poet, a visionary, an academic, a scholar… a man who, above all, has a passionate commitment towards justice and human rights.

He describes him as “a political millionaire”, in honour of his 1,007,104 vote tally. That political capital “will not be squandered – it will be used for the welfare for the Irish people.” He leads applause to the electoral staff.

His vote have “reinvigorated me” – and he promises to be more troublesome in the Seanad backbenches in future.

Dana Rosemary Scallon extends her heartiest congratulations to the Higgins family, and thanks the returning officer “and all the people who have worked so hard in this count centre and all the count centres throughout the country.

She thanks her director, Brendan Kelly, and her team – especially her husband Damien, her family, supporters and volunteers – all of whom have given so much to themselves.

It’s been a great honour to be nominated to be part of it… it’s wonderful to be standing here at the end of it. I give my best wishes to all of the other candidates.

I’m very grateful to be here, and I do wish everything that’s good in the coming seven years, for you and for our country.

Here is the President-Elect, Michael D Higgins, who begins by thanking the election staff, the Gardaí, the castle staff and to those who contributed to the campaign – a campaign in which he travelled all the country.

To the people of Ireland I extend heartful thanks… they gave me the fire of support.

He is grateful to the Labour Party… and also to those independent Oireachtas members who lent their public support – and, of course, to the one-million-plus people who voted for him.

Michael D Higgins: I want to thank the national campaign committee, and dedicated members who he will thank on a separate occasion, and also thank the constituency organisations.

He thanks…

My wife, my inspiration and my partner Sabina

…and his family for helping them. He sends his thoughts to sister-in-law, nephews and nieces abroad.

I wil be a president for all the people, and from this moment I will cease to be a member and a president of the Labour Party…

…the Presidency is an independent office. The Irish people [...] have given a very clear mandate, on a very clear set of ideas to me, as the ninth President.

Higgins also acknowledges those who voted for the others, whose thoughts he will include in his own presidency. He also wants to be a president for those who didn’t vote, he says.

Always in my mind, too, are those who have gone away – I will be their president too.

His mandate had its four pillars – inclusive citizenship, a creative society, making an Irishness to be proud of, and a real republic.

This was a vision of a real republic: of life and language, ideals and experience, which has a ring of authenticity which we need now as we go forward [...] I saw, and felt and feel, the pain of the Irish people.

I love our shared Ireland, and its core decencies.. I love its celebration of the endless possibilities of our people.

Higgins: We leave behind that individualism… Now we must respond collectively to acknowledge our shared problems: unemployment, mortgage distress, and exclusion.

The necesary transformation of which I speak… is built on turning createive possibilities into living realities for all our people. And I believe – and this was the wonderful thing about going around the country so often – that that transformation has already begun.

Good people have commenced a journey to a version of Irishness of which we can be proud.

The reconnection of society, economy and ethics is a project we cannot postpone.

Higgins: The powerful instinct for decency must be at the heart of a real republic.

Ireland has made its choice for the future, and it has chosen the version ofI Irish it will be. I will work, with head and heart, to be part of it with all of you: of making that future.

Thanks for listening and supporting to me – may we flourish in the years to come. Thank you very much.

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny: Over a million people have cast their votes for the President-elect… I believe Michael D Higgins will prove to be an outstanding president for our country and for our people. This is a wonderful day for Michael D Higgins, for Sabina, for his family and all their friends. It is a wonderful day for you , Tánaiste, and your party who nominated him.

To the defeated candidates: thank you for the competition you engendered… for having the courage to put your names on the ballot paper. The authenticity of this result speaks for itself. The people wanted Michael D Higgins for their president.

It wasn’t to be Gay Mitchell’s campaign, but on his behalf, thanks to those who worked in his campaign. He is our European leader, he’s a good man and has always worked to the principles he believes in, in politics.

Enda Kenny:

In his book of poetry, ‘Season of Fire’ – if you check it out – there’s a poem in there about the Minister’s black car.

Clap, children, clap, said the sister.

Quiet, children quiet, for the minister’s black car.

Now you’ve all given him one. I hope he’s worried about the carbon footprint.

An Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore begins by thanking the election staff and those who worked for the election. He congratulates Michael D, and also wishes to compliment the defeated candidates. “Democracy thrives on choice. In this election, people had the widest choice that was ever available.”

People reflected on the Ireland they wanted, and chose – in very large number – to elect Michael D Higgins. He is personally very happy about that outcome: their families have been long friends.

A special word of thanks to Labour for nominating Michael D Higgins and for working so hard. He is now parting from us – but his party are very proud of him, all down the years.

He has been the life, and certainly the soul, of the Labour Party. He has shone the flames we subscribe to.

And that is our lot from this particular room – over we go to St Patrick’s Hall for a press conference with the President-Elect.

Patrick Nulty TD, on telly, says MDH is an inspirational figure to anyone who meets him – he displays how participation in public life CAN make a difference.

So there was definitely no sign of Mary Davis – who polled fewest first preferences – and Gay Mitchell. Mitchell was eliminated in the same round of counting as Martin McGuinness, who did make it. (see 16.34 on this blog for his speech).

Miriam O’Callaghan and David Davin-Power discussed the absence of Mitchell and Davis. David Davin-Power, like the rest of us, “hasn’t a clue” why they didn’t turn up.

This is what some of those commenting on Twitter are saying:

By the way, a poster on is noting that Seán Gallagher is listed as Fianna Fáil in the national results list on page 6 of the Irish Times. Shurely shome mishtake?

OK. We are at the press conference elsewhere in Dublin Castle; The President-Elect, First Lady designate, Tánaiste and Joe Costello are here.

MDH is first asked about the economic plight. “What I was particularly interested in were the assumptions and thinkings about the economic boom, he says, and the particular impacts of economic failure: unemployment, devalued homes, no childcare, perhaps a commute… that’s what I listened to. But I also felt there was a positive mood, to try and move beyond recrimination.

Second question is about how important today is for him personally, and his priorities He says he wants to put an emphasis on personal liberties, and to appropriately mark the various centenaries forthcoming.

MDH is then asked about whether he’ll run again – “It isn’t my intention. I look forward to this one.” He wrote his manifesto in March and April, after retirement from the Dáíl.

What was the worst part? “There were times when the campaign was quite ageist.” He’s done things – intellectually, and in other ways – that others wouldn’t dream of doing. “It was wrong… it nearly dislodged the media conversation at some stage.” He jokes about his “famous Colombian knee”.

He was concerned in the last week-and-a-half but believes the tide was turning BEFORE the debates, which he felt he won. He played to every age group – including the youth – and those did well for him.

MDH is asked about what he wants to take on board from other campaigns – he says the best ideas were on social and youth inclusions. His first discussions with the government will be on youth participation, youth emigration, youth unemployment, youth suicide, and so on.

Does he propose to be a frequent visitor to the North? “Yes, I intend to continue the work,” he says. There will be many commemorations where he will have to “bring sophistication to what I call the politics of memory”.

He is then asked about whether Irish people should feel entitled to be angry about what they are being burdened with. “Jonathan Swift should be your guide to that,” the new President Elect coyly quips.

There is a real task to restore trust in public institutions, MDH says. “Some of the media missed my concentrations on this earlier on…” He says his serious consultations with the public on this topic were ongoing while the focus was on who else might run.

If you want to move on, you look at the values and assumptions which got you where you are, and then you ask whether there is a better way of getting where you want to go.

On the constitutional convention – do you have people in mind you want to appoint? It’s a very important topic, MDH says, saying the Constitution is about to turn 75 years old. There has been some dialogue on this topic already in the campaign, which he welcomes. He also wants to involve a citizen’s forum and combine it with expert opinions. “This is a great opportunity”, he says, referring to the voting age, votes for emigrants, the age requirements for President…

He says Article 15 would facilitate the appointment of people to the Constitutional Convention and he hopes to get a part in that.

Writer Mary Wright asks MDH to hark back to the time they crossed the Sahara together by camel. MDH is at pains to point out that they didn’t cross together, per se.

What concrete steps can the president take to fix the society? One of his seminars will be on that. I deliberately shortened some of my speeches over the course of the campaign – because I’m always learning from press people, he jokes – quoting Kant: “What can do know? What can we do? What can we hold?”

Our crisis didn’t come out of the blue, MDH says… he discusses theorists who predicted it. “You have to think your way into a new space.”

Quick question to Sabina: “I’m so happy. For myself, and our family, and for Ireland. I just feel.. the big Yes, people said. It means they have said Yes to the type of Irishness Michael has spoken about. That is the best of us, come forward.” She, like her spouse, quotes Kant. “Wish for everybody what you wish for yourself.”

Yours truly (!) asks what role Sabina might have in the new Aras. ”I think Sabina will be wonderful,” he says. “We both have been very public people all our lives.

“One Sunday we addressed 24 after-Mass meetings by splitting up. We’ve been public people. I’ve acknowledged my enormous debt to Sabina as a comrade in life… but I’m also love her incredible talents. Sometimes she’s more patient than me.”

Says Sabina: “I feel personally, very first of all, my function will to be supportive of Michael in ceremonial and diplomatic functions… all of that wil be my main function. I look forward to that, and I experienced that when Michael was Minister for Culture.”

The view from the front: Joe Costello, Sabina Coyle, Michael D Higgins and Eamon Gilmore. It’s a rare interview where Eamon Gilmore doesn’t get a question.

Eagle-eyed photographer Stephen Kilkenny of Light Curve Photo has just sent us the loveliest batch of photographs from the podium announcement.

There’s no other way of saying this: Isn’t he darling?

So now that the Q&A is over, President-elect Michael D Higgins heads off with the Returning Officer who makes up a scroll of office which she will give to the Army, who in turn give it to Michael D Higgins. He will, of course, soon be the Supreme Commander of the Irish Defence Forces.

One of the faces at the back of the hall, as Michael D and company took questions just now, was the party’s newest TD Patrick Nulty.

I asked him whether he was going to be catching up on sleep tonight, or planning on celebrating. “I’ve probably got some constituency work to do,” he said. And he wasn’t joking. He’s off back to work.

Now – the dust is settling on what has been, for a myriad reasons, a historic election. Michael D Higgins, having done his piece on Six One, is heading home. And there’s a good reason…

…and that reason is that he has an important arrival coming.

The army are popping around at 7:15pm, to the street outside his Dublin flat on Grattan Court, Lower Mount Street. They have a special delivery: the formal notification, from the Returning Officer, that he has been elected as president.

That’s the system: the Returning Officer gives the letter to the Defence Forces, who will then pass on the formal letter to their new Commander-in-Chief-Elect.

And so our thoughts turn to the two referendums. Results are beginning to trickle in for the first of the two referendums: the 29th Amendment the Constitution, on judges’ pay.

My understanding is that we’re getting those results first, in their entirety, before we move to the 30th Amendment – which, because it was the last item added to today’s agenda, is dealt with last.

Brendan Howlin spoke to us earlier – and suggested that even if the controversial Oireachtas Inquiries referendum is defeated, the government will still continue to bring other similar proposals:

It’s going to be very difficult to have the sort of parliament that this Government is committed to having, and that is an Oireachtas that holds the Executive to account robustly, that seeks after truth, that ensures it’s done efficiently and effectively, without powers that are close to or analgous to the ones we proposed.

More on Howlin’s comments over here.

But while those referendum results slowly come in, here’s where we’re going to draw the line under our coverage of the Presidential election.

1,771,762 people went to the polls to elect their new head of state – and having won a preference of a majority of those voters, Michael D Higgins of Galway West will be their ninth democratically elected head of state.

He takes office – on a day that will be memorable for all sorts of reasons – on Friday, November 11: that’s 11/11/11.

And that is our lot from Dublin Castle. Susan Daly will be back with you later in a few hours’ time to guide you through the results of the two referendums, but for now, this is Gavan Reilly thanking you for your company and wishing you a very good evening. Slán libh.

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

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

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