| 10.8°C Dublin

Michael D Higgins on course to win second term as Traveller row boosts Peter Casey's vote - exit poll

  • Mr Higgins is set to top the poll with around 58.1pc of the vote
  • Peter Casey has gone from 1pc in opinion polls to 20.7pc in RTÉ Exit Poll
  • Candidates need to get at least 12.5pc of the vote in order to secure a refund for their expenses up to €200,000

Close

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Michael D Higgins. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

/

Michael D Higgins

MICHAEL D Higgins is on course to be re-elected for a second term as president – but more than one in five voters have backed businessman Peter Casey.

At the end of an often bizarre campaign, Mr Higgins is set to top the poll with around 58.1pc of the vote.

However, the story of the election is the little-known Dragons’ Den investor who has gone from 1pc in the opinion polls to 20.7pc in an RTÉ Exit Poll.

His controversial argument that Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority saw his vote surge in the final week of campaigning. 

Close

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

A general view of count staff in front of ballot boxes, as they wait for the counting of votes will begin in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday at 9am, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Red C survey of more than 3,700 people leaving polling stations across the country suggests the other four candidates polled so badly that they will not be in a position to reclaim any expenses from the State.

Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ni Riada is on 7.4pc, less than half the support level her party normally enjoys.

Close

Presidential candidate Peter Casey .  Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Presidential candidate Peter Casey . Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Presidential candidate Peter Casey . Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Pieta House founder Joan Freeman and Sean Gallagher, another Dragons’ Den businessman who was runner-up in 2011, are in a battle for fourth and fifth on 6.3pc and 5.5pc respectively.

The third Dragon, Gavin Duffy, secured just 2pc of the votes.

Close

Ahead of casting his vote, Mr Casey told the Irish Independent he had “no regrets” about how his campaign evolved, even though at one point he claims to have considered dropping out of the race.

The support for Mr Casey is likely to some alarm in government circles, given that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asked voters not to back him.

Questions will also be asked about the €15m it cost to hold the election.

Turnout is set to be the lowest for a presidential election since the foundation of the State. Aside from assessing why their messages didn’t resonate with voters, the four candidates at the bottom of the race must now also deal with significant bills.

Close

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Counting of votes begins in Ireland's presidential election on Saturday, with incumbent Michael D Higgins on course to secure a landslide victory. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Candidates need to get at least 12.5pc of the vote in order to secure a refund for their expenses up to €200,000.

Back in 2011, Mr Higgins secured 701,101 first preference votes which amounted to 39.6pc of the vote.

Close

Sean Gallagher pictured after voting in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, Bobby, 5, and daughter Lucy, 3, at the Charlesland Sports and Recreation Centre in Greystones. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Sean Gallagher pictured after voting in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, Bobby, 5, and daughter Lucy, 3, at the Charlesland Sports and Recreation Centre in Greystones. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Sean Gallagher pictured after voting in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, Bobby, 5, and daughter Lucy, 3, at the Charlesland Sports and Recreation Centre in Greystones. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

He had promised to serve only one term but the 77-year-old will now continue residing in Áras an Uachtaráin until 2025.

His campaign was dogged by controversies over spending at Áras an Uachtaráin, including his use of the Government jet for a trip to Belfast.

During the election, Mr Higgins refused to publish details of how an unaudited €317,000 annual allowance is used – but has committed to in the coming weeks.

Over the past three week he outlined his plans for a second term, including the establishment of a year-long initiative around achieving equality.

He also intends to launch a programme called ‘Imagination and the Nation’ which will conclude with three special art events –focusing on past, present and future. 

Close

Marian Roarty presiding officer and Garda Eamonn McGinley after arriving by helicopter on Tory Island, off the coast of County Donegal, with a ballot box for the Irish presidential election Niall Carson/PA Wire

Marian Roarty presiding officer and Garda Eamonn McGinley after arriving by helicopter on Tory Island, off the coast of County Donegal, with a ballot box for the Irish presidential election Niall Carson/PA Wire

Marian Roarty presiding officer and Garda Eamonn McGinley after arriving by helicopter on Tory Island, off the coast of County Donegal, with a ballot box for the Irish presidential election Niall Carson/PA Wire

Mr Casey started out as the most low-profile of the six candidates but dominated the headlines after landing himself at the centre of a racism row when taking part in ‘The Floating Voter’ podcast on Independent.ie.

He said the special recognition of Travellers as an ethnic minority was “nonsense”.

Ahead of casting his vote, the Derry native told the Irish Independent he had “no regrets” about how his campaign evolved. At one point he claims to have genuinely considered dropping out of the race but decided to recommit after receiving a deluge of support from members of the public.

He said his was new-found popularity was not based on attacking the Traveller community but “more somebody speaking out”. Mr Casey faced calls to pull out of the race after claiming Travellers should not be recognised as an ethnic minority because they are “basically people camping in someone else’s land”.

The businessman argued: “They are not paying their fair share of taxes in society.”

He was Mr Higgins harshest critic during the campaign, describing the lack of transparency around Áras spending as “a disgrace”.

Asked whether he will congratulate Mr Higgins, the businessman replied: “Of course. He is my president. I respect the office of the President. I will of course wish him the very, very best. I will offer him my support in any way that I can.”

The Government will be relieved that despite a lack of public awareness about the Blasphemy Referendum, it will easily pass.

The Exit Poll shows 71.1pc indicating they voted Yes, while 26.3pc stated they had voted No.Another 2pc said they had not voted on the blasphemy referendum.

This means the offence of blasphemy will now be removed from the constitution. When the ballot boxes spill open this morning, it is expected that between 40pc-45pc of people voted.

The lowest ever turnout for a presidential election was when Mary McAleese was elected in 1997. On that occasion 47.6pc of people cast their vote.

When Michael D Higgins took office in 2011, the turnout was 56.11pc.

Counting gets underway at 9am this morning and is expected to finish up this evening. Ballots from the blasphemy referendum will then be counted. 

An official declaration will be made in Dublin Castle – but Mr Higgins’s new presidential term doesn’t actually begin until November 11 which is also Armistice Day.


Privacy