Dublin-West by-election down to the wire between Ruth Coppinger and FF's McGuinness
THE Dublin-West by-election has come down to the wire as the two original favourites battle it out to secure the seat.
Significant transfers picked up by Fianna Fail's David McGuinness has brought him within a few hundred votes of Socialist candidate Ruth Coppinger.
The surprise performance was delivered by Sinn Fein's Paul Donnelly who topped the poll on first preference votes.
But Mr Donnelly did not pick up the transfers he required and is likely to be squeezed into third place behind Ms Coppinger and Mr McGuinness.
The final result will be strongly influenced by the direction of the 5,846 votes secured by Independent candidate David Hall, who was eliminated in fourth place.
But even if Mr McGuinness benefits strongly from Mr Hall's votes, he is unlikely to pick up substantially following the expected elimination of Mr Donnelly.
Like in 2011, Mr McGuinness may well a narrow second as the counting continues tonight.
Fine Gael's hopes of securing the seat quickly fizzled out after Eamonn Coghlan failed to live up to deliver despite a huge investment from the party.
His campaign never took off and he privately admitted during the week that he was facing an uphill struggle to secure the seat.
In similar circumstances, Mortgage campaigner and Independent candidate David Hall conceded early that his vote did not appear to be strong enough to place him in contention.
Mr Hall secured just over 13pc on first preferences following a campaign that began in controversy after he found himself at the centre of a blackmail plot.
It was a humiliating day for Loraine Mulligan, who is chairperson of the Labour Party. The SIPTU official was beaten into 7th place by the Green Party's Roderic O'Gorman during a day that was disastrous for her party in general.
She did not address the media after arriving at the City West count centre with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.
After Ms Mulligan's elimination, the by-election turned into a three horse race, with David McGuinness trailing the two front runners Paul Donnelly and Ruth Coppinger.
At one point, just eight votes separated the Sinn Fein and Socialist candidates, followed by Mr McGuinness in third.
Socialist TD Joe Higgins, who previously employed Ms Coppinger, said voters had delivered a clear message to the government parties, particularly Labour.
The Dublin West TD warned that Labour is heading towards a Green Party style election wipeout at the next general election.
Mr Higgins further claimed that Eamon Gilmore's party have "stabbed people in the back" and have now been punished at the ballot box.
"The overwhelming message is that the austerity agenda, and those pushing it - Fine Gael and Labour, have got an unmerciable hammering," he said.
"More is expected of Labour as a party that was supposedly in the interest of working class people and instead it's stabbed them in the back," he added.