CARLOW/Kilkenny by-election frontrunner Bobby Aylward says he is “optimistic but cautious” of taking home victory as early tallies showed he is the clear favourite.
With 96pc of the ballot boxes tallied votes show Mr Aylward at 28pc, far ahead of his nearest rival David Fitzgerald on 21pc.
Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion is at 16pc, Renua’s Patrick McKee is at 9.4pc, while Labour’s Willie Quinn is at 6.5pc, according to the latest tallies of ballot boxes.
The transfers will have a huge influence on the final outcome but at this early stage Mr Aylward is in strong position as the first count begins.
Speaking in The Hub event centre in Kilkenny, Mr Aylward said: “I’m feeling optimistic but cautious. It’s a long way to go still and transfers are going to have a big say on where this seat will finally go.”
“I’d say we will be here well into the evening. I’m hoping it will be over around eight, nine, ten o’clock but whatever it takes we’ll stay here and stick it out,” he added.
Mr Aylward insisted Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin’s leadership would not be doubt even if he loses the election.
“Win, lose or draw Micheal Martin will still be leader of Fianna Fail and will be leader of Fianna Fail going into the next election,” he said.
“I don’t think it was an issue at this election. It was about a Carlow/Kilkenny seat that was vacant and had nothing to do with Micheal’s leadership. The media tried to turn it into that but as far as I was concerned it was never about Micheal’s leadership,” he added.