Carlow/Kilkenny by-election: Fianna Fail takes strong lead in tallies
With 43pc of the boxes counted in Carlow and Kilkenny, Fianna Fail has taken a strong lead in the race to take EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s former seat.
Bobby Aylward has around 24pc of the vote - four points ahead of Fine Gael’s David Fitzgerald at 20pc.
Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion at 18pc has put in a strong performance and surprised many at The Hub event centre in Cillian Hill just outside Kilkenny city.
Party activists suggest her vote will fall off once the city boxes are counted as the electorate generally sway towards conservative candidates.
However, tallymen believe as more boxes are counted the race will tighten to a two horse race between Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein but Fine Gael transfers will see Aylward top the poll.
After an initial surge of votes Labour’s Willie Quinn, the only frontrunner from Carlow, dropped off to 11pc, according to the tally count.
The majority of the Labour votes are likely to go to their Coalition partner which will go some way to tightening the gap between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael but ultimately tallymen believe it will not be enough for Mr Fitzgerald to take the lead.
Renua candidate Patrick McKee is putting in a good performance for the fledgling party established by former Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton.
Early tally’s showed McKee on 9pc in Carlow, where the party focused their canvass in recent weeks.
Anti Austerity Alliance Colm Macliam took 3.5pc of the vote, People Before Profit’s Adrienne Wallace was at 5pc, and Green Party’s Malcom Noonan 4pc.