Swing in support for Green Party in European elections - exit poll
The Green Party is set to be the big winners in the European elections - in contention to win three seats.
The Greens have scored 9pc in an exit poll of 3,000 voters, which is a massive jump from just 1.6pc five years ago.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are now tied in terms of popular support which reduces the chances of either Leo Varadkar or Micheál Martin pushing for a general election in the near future.
Sitting Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe is set to top the European poll in Dublin with 23pc which will come as a massive shock to Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
The three largest parties are in a battle to take one of the three automatic seats with Independents4Change Clare Daly.
Former Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is on course to finished second in the capital on 14pc.
Fianna Fáil’s Barry Andrews is on 12pc, alongside Ms Daly.
The only sitting MEP in Dublin running for re-election, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan, is on 10pc and at serious risk of losing her seat.
As expected Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuiness will top the poll in the Midlands-North West with the RTÉ/TG4 polls putting her on 25pc.
Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy is likely to return to Brussels with 15pc first preferences.
But the other sitting MEP, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, faces a battle to retain his place.
He is on 10pc behind Green Party’s newcomer Saoirse McHugh (12pc).
Ms McGuinness’s running mate Maria Walsh is also in contention for the fourth seat on 10pc. She will benefit from transfers.
Independent Peter Casey is on 7pc and could feature too.
Once again the constituency has proven a bridge too far for Fianna Fáil who will be desperately disappointed with the showing of ex-minister Brendan Smith and Galway TD Anne Rabbitte. They have a combined vote of just 9pc.
With a two-foot long ballot paper it’s no surprise that Ireland South is set to have a marathon count.
Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly will top the poll with 16pc of first preferences which is close to a quota.
Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher and Sinn Féin Liadh Ní Riada are both on 13pc and should take a seat each.
There are four candidates in contention for the final two seats, including one ‘cold storage’ seat which won’t come into effect until after Brexit.
The Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan (12pc), Independents4Change’s Mick Wallace (10pc), Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne (9pc) and Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune (9pc) could be spending several days at the count centre in Cork.
The Exit Poll suggests the level of national support for the two main parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, is very similar.
Both parties scored 23pc which suggests there would be a hung Dáil if a general election took place in the near future.
Fianna Fáil has committed to propping up the Fine Gael government for one budget. Most TDs expect an election to take place early in the New Year.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald will be disappointed with a predicted 12pc in the local elections. If this is shown to be accurate in the final tallies, it would be down 3pc from five years ago when Gerry Adams was at the helm.
By contrast the Green Party has risen to 9pc, an unprecedented level of support in Ireland.
The Labour Party is on 6pc, a further drop from five years ago when they lost 81 seats.
The Divorce Referendum is likely to pass by an overwhelming majoriy, leaving the way clear for the Government to reduce the living apart period for couple’s to formally separate from four years to two.