Saturday 3 December 2016

'Just 2pc gap' - Battle Royale underway as Joan Burton fights to cling onto her seat

Cormac McQuinn and Jane O'Faherty

Published 27/02/2016 | 11:53

Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
Labour leader Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke

The final tally from Dublin west shows that Tánaiste Joan Burton will be fighting the battle of her life today to hold onto her seat.

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Tally figures indicate that if the Labour party leader succeeds in holding onto the final seat, it could be by a tiny margin.

With all boxes tallied, Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar has topped the poll. The next four candidates are all within 2pc of each other meaning there will be a fierce battle for the final seat in the four-seat constituency.

The figures for Dublin west are: Leo Varadkar (FG) 19.6%, Jack Chambers (FF) 16.5%, Ruth Coppinger (AAA) 15.4%, Joan Burton (Lab) 15.4%,  Paul Donnelly (SF) 14.4%, David McGuinness (Ind) 7.2%, and Roderic O'Gorman (GP) 4.2%.

Veteran Socialist politician Joe Higgins has said that exit polls show that the country is on the verge of "an earthquake politically".

The poll suggests it's impossible that the government will be returned in its present form.

"There's no question about it. It shows the huge undermining of the establishment politics and political parties," Mr Higgins told Independent.ie.

Former Dublin West TD Mr Higgins, decided not to run in this election. He is the director of elections for his constituency colleague Ruth Coppinger who's in a scrap for a seat with Tánaiste Joan Burton of Labour, Jack Chambers of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin's Paul Donnelly.

Mr Higgins said that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour have been "exposed as defenders of the status quo" and that the exit poll results were "inevitable" on that basis.

"The fact that the two previous biggest parties of the establishment (FG and FF) can barely muster 50pc shows how significantly things have changed.

"So I think you've now the opening up of a new road in Irish political life towards the left, towards the possibility of a real alternative."

He said he the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit platform hope to get a minimum of seven seats nationwide.

On Ms Coppinger's chances he said: "We're reasonably confident. It is early days so I'm certainly not calling it. There's a long way to go here."

Mr Higgins said he doesn't regret his decision not to run in this election.

"I will continue to assist, hopefully a new parliamentary team in Dáil intervention and generally in building the alternative around the country. If we get an increased number of TDs I'll be very happy indeed."

Meanwhile, another battle is underway in Dublin Bay South with 33.3pc of the boxes opened.

Sinn Fein's Chris Andrews has topped the poll with 17.5pc of the vote, while Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy got 15.2pc.

But the fight is on between three candidates who are all within 1pc of each other for the last two seats - Renua's Lucinda Creighton is on 10.2pc, Labour's Kevin Humphreys is on 11.4pc and Fianna Fail's Jim O'Callaghan has 10.7pc.

Meanwhile, in Dublin Mid West, final tallies suggest Sinn Fein’s Eoin O’Broin could beat Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald to top the poll.

With all boxes open, the tallies put O’Broin at 22pc of first preference votes, just ahead of Fitzgerald at 21pc. Both would meet the projected quota.

Sitting TDs Derek Keating (FG) and Joanna Tuffy (Lab) could be in danger of losing their seats, with just 5pc and 4pc respectively, according to the final tally.

Apparently making a comeback is Fianna Fail’s John Curran. The former TD lost his seat in the last general election but tallies show him in the running for the third seat in this four-seat constituency, with 16pc.

Gino Kenny (PBP-AAA) is polling strongly, with a tally of 10pc, followed by Anne Marie McNally of the Social Democrats at 6pc and Paul Gogarty (IA) at 5pc.

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