Higgins re-elected as President

Blasphemy offence set to be deleted as votes are counted

Dean Ruxton, Colin Gleeson Sat, Oct 27
LIVE: Higgins re-elected as President

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  • 08:03
    Good morning and welcome to the Irish Times live coverage of the counting of votes in the presidential election and blasphemy referendum. Counting begins at 9am.
  • 08:09

    An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll, published as soon as voting stopped at 10pm on Friday, shows Michael D Higgins  is set to be easily re-elected President, despite a strong showing for the Independent candidate Peter Casey, who surged into second place. The poll projects that Mr Higgins will win 56 per cent of the vote, comfortably enough to win the election on the first count.

  • 08:20
    Here are the projected results, as per the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll on Friday night
    Here are the projected results, as per the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll on Friday night
  • 08:27
    Beyond the projection of 56 per cent for Mr Higgins, Peter Casey, whose campaign was marked by criticisms of Travellers and their separate ethnic status, surged ahead of all the other challengers to finish with 21 per cent of the vote, the poll predicts.
  • 08:31
    Pat Leahy reports:  

    Seán Gallagher, who won half a million votes in 2011, failed to make any headway according to the poll, which predicts he will finish with just 7 per cent of the vote - some 22 percentage points less than his 2011 share of the vote, when he won 29 per cent.

    But the biggest disappointment was probably for Sinn Féin, whose candidate Liadh Ní Riada won just 8 per cent of the vote, the poll predicts.

    Pieta House founder and Senator Joan Freeman won just 6 per cent of the vote, the poll predicts. Independent candidate Gavin Duffy flopped completely, ending a miserable campaign with just 2 per cent of the vote, the exit poll finds.

  • 08:42

    Yesterday, the people of Ireland were also asked to vote on the removal of the reference to blasphemy in the Constitution. The poll results predict that the proposal to delete it was overwhelmingly passed with 69 per cent of the vote.

    Younger voters strongly backed deletion, while there was a more even split among older voters; 48 per cent voted to retain the article as it currently stands.

  • 08:43
  • 08:47
  • 08:57

    Peter Casey's predicted 21 per cent represents a large jump in popularity. The increase in support has come predominantly from voters in rural areas (28 per cent) and in Connacht/Ulster (29 per cent). He is also more popular among older voters, with 23 per cent giving him their first-preference vote.

    More on that here

  • 09:01
    The count has begun - we'll bring you all updates as we get them. You can click here for a full breakdown of the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll, which has predicted a strong win for Michael D Higgins.
  • 09:06


    The @IrishTimes exit poll results in full: Higgins 56%, Casey 21%, Ni Riada 8%, Gallagher 7%, Freeman 6% and Duffy 2%. Blasphemy referendum - Yes 69%, No 31% #Aras18 Join us tomorrow and Sunday for full live results https://t.co/X18SETmqIl pic.twitter.com/FNFkBfJrQ8

    — Paddy Logue (@paddylogue) October 26, 2018
  • 09:14

    According to the exit poll, Michael D Higgins won a straight majority of votes (more than 50 per cent) in every age group, in almost every region of the country, among women and men and among both urpab and rural voters.

  • 09:15

    Fiach Kelly writes:

    The strongest vote for Mr Higgins is projected to be in Dublin, where he won 66 per cent of the vote, but nowhere did any of his challengers come remotely near the sitting president. The weakest support for him was in his former political base in Connacht-Ulster, though the President still was still comfortably ahead (49 per cent ) there, the poll finds.

    He was more popular among female voters (59 per cent) than men (52 per cent) and weakest among older voters (54 per cent). He won strong majorities among younger voters, winning 61 per cent of 18-24-year-olds and 59 per cent of 25-34-year-olds. Urban voters backed his re-election (60 per cent) more enthusiastically than rural voters (48 per cent), according to the exit poll.

  • 09:21

    Another exit poll, published by RTÉ and conducted by Red C, predicts a similar outcome in the presidential election, with Mr Higgins the strong favourite at 58.1 per cent. That poll has Mr Casey at 20.7 per cent; Ms Ní Riada at 7.4 per cent; Joan Freeman at 6.3 per cent; Sean Gallagher at 5.5 per cent and Gavin Duffy at 2.0 per cent.

  • 09:27
    Seals broken on the ballot boxes in the Convention Centre as Dublin count gets under way at 9am. Photograph: Olivia Kelly
    Seals broken on the ballot boxes in the Convention Centre as Dublin count gets under way at 9am. Photograph: Olivia Kelly
  • 09:39
    To recap (very briefly) - counting is under way in the presidential election and blasphemy referendum. An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll predicts an easy win for Higgins, as well as an overwhelming "Yes" to delete the blasphemy article from the Constitution. We'll be here throughout the day with updates on the count as we get them; you can get in touch at druxton@irishtimes.com or tweet me
  • 09:43

    Updates arriving already - Barry Roche reports from Cork:

    Turnout in Cork city was low relative to general elections with the estimated turnout in Cork North Central reaching just 40 per cent while neighbouring Cork South Central managed 46 per cent.

    Early tallies from Cork North Central suggested President Michael D Higgins is set to romp home with two boxes from Boherboy Road in Mayfield putting him well ahead.

    In one box after just 15 minutes of sorting, President Higgins had got 80 votes while in a neighbouring box from the same polling station he got 75 votes – more than all his rivals put together.

    However, the strong showing of Derry businessman, Peter Casey, was also notable as he garnered 40 votes in box and 33 in a second box, putting him well clear of the other runners in the race.

    Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada had taken 25 votes in one box but just 11 in another while Sean Gallagher, Joan Freeman and Gavin Duffy had all managed just single figure votes in the very early tally.

  • 09:47
  • 09:50

    Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the exit poll has been the surge in support for Peter Casey - "Casey" is trending on Twitter this morning.

    Pat Leahy, reporting on the exit poll, wrote: "Mr Casey, whose campaign was marked by criticisms of Travellers and their separate ethnic status, surged ahead of all the other challengers to finish with 21 per cent of the vote, the poll predicts.

    "Opinion polls in the early part of the campaign estimated negligible support for Mr Casey.

    "However, after his criticisms of Travellers, and his assertion that there was a growing culture of welfare dependency in Ireland, support appears to have surged towards Mr Casey in the final weeks of the campaign, with pollsters at some polling stations reporting he was attracting as many voters as Mr Higgins."

  • 09:55

    This morning, Peter Casey denied that he stoked anti-Traveller feeling during the campaign.

    "I simply brought to the fore something that was there already,” he told the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk.

  • 09:56

    From Vivienne Clarke:

    Before the campaign began Mr Casey had “absolutely no idea there was this issue", he said of his comments on Travellers and housing.

    "You have to remember I left Ireland before you were born" he said to Irish Examiner journalist Daniel McConnell.

    He said his campaign had sat him down after the first week and told him “you need to pull out, you're not going to get one nomination”.

    When asked what he is going to do next, he said: "I'm going to campaign heavily for mandatory retirement from public life at 80."

  • 09:59

    Casey told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that his reason for his rise in the polls was not because of his comments on Travellers, but because he spoke “about the people who are really hurting."

  • 10:00

    Mr Casey told the programme that the points he made about “middle Ireland” had resonated with people who felt “here’s someone saying we have to tackle this problem” (getting on the housing ladder).

    “People were looking for a voice. There is a government that’s not governing, people not doing things," he said.

    “There is a breath of fresh air coming through Irish politics."

  • 10:07

    “It was nothing to do with the Travelling community. The reason I went up in the polls is I spoke about the people who are really hurting. There is an €8billion Strategic Fund that should be used to help people get on the housing ladder, like the GI Bill. That’s what we need.”

    He said that students should have a university life and should not pay fees, but they then should live and work in Ireland for five years after they graduate.

    When asked what he will do next, he said he will “definitely be doing something that will make a difference.”

  • 10:11
    A broadly smiling Peter Casey at the Convention Centre says he is “disappointed” at the prospect of coming second. Photograph: Olivia Kelly/The Irish Times
    A broadly smiling Peter Casey at the Convention Centre says he is “disappointed” at the prospect of coming second. Photograph: Olivia Kelly/The Irish Times
  • 10:14
    Olivia Kelly is reporting from the Convention centre, where Casey says he will run for President again, unless he is already Taoiseach at the time
  • 10:29

    Update from Barry Roche in Cork:

    The picture emerging in Cork city constituencies is that while President Michael D Higgins is on course to be returned on the first count, Derry business Peter Casey is polling exceptionally well.

    According to tallies largely conducted by Sinn Féin with some Labour involvement, Mr Higgins was on 53 per cent after eight boxes in Cork North Central while Peter Casey was running at 25 per cent.

    Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada was polling at 10.5 per cent – well ahead of Senator Joan Freeman and second time candidate Sean Gallagher, both on 4.8 per cent, with Gavin Duffy trailing the field at 1.6per cent

  • 10:33

    Cork, continued: One box from Scoil Olibhear in Ballyvolane showed just how well Mr Casey was doing with the Dragon’s Den man coming in 130 votes - just 22 behind Mr Higgins who garnered 152 votes.

    Liadh Ní Riada won 48 votes while Joan Freeman just pipped Sean Gallagher by 17 votes to 15 while Gavin Duffy picked up a solitary vote out of the 353 votes cast.

    In neighbouring Cork South Central, Michael D Higgins was again comfortably leading the field with 57 per cent after 18 boxes while Peter Casey was on 18.8 per cent with Liadh Ní Riada was on 10.9 per cent

    As in Cork North Central, Sean Gallagher and Joan Freeman were running close in Cork South Central - Gallagher on 5.8 per cent to Freeman on 5.5 per cent while Gavin Duffy was again trailing the field at 1.6 per cent

    One box from Evergreen Road in Turners Cross reflected the pattern on the ground with Michael D Higgins winning 222 votes to Peter Casey’s 83 votes – both well ahead of their rivals.

    Liadh NiíRiada won 43 votes with Joan Freeman taking 29 votes. Sean Gallagher got 22 votes and Gavin Duffy was again behind, winning just 10 votes of the 409 votes cast.

  • 10:34
  • 10:37

    Tallies of about 16  per cent of boxes in Galway West show President Michael D Higgins running at almost 62 per cent, with Independent candidate Peter Casey at almost 23 per cent, reports Lorna Siggins.

    The tallies of some 30 of 182 boxes in the constituency show Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada at almost 6 per cent, and independents Joan Freeman at almost 5 per cent, Sean Gallagher at just over 3  per cent and Gavin Duffy at just over 1 per cent.

    Counting of votes in the presidential election is taking place at NUI Galway’s Baily Allen hall.

  • 10:41

    Elsewhere, Gavin Duffy is polling as low as 0.1 per cent in early tallies from some county Dublin constituencies.

    Partial tallies from Dublin Mid-West and Rathdown show Duffy on 0.1 per cent, but there was better news for the candidate from Fingal where he was on 4 per cent, reports Paul Cullen.

    As expected, Michael D Higgins is well out in front in the six Dublin constituencies being counted at Citywest this morning. Early tallies show a vote as high as 66 per cent in Dun Laoghaire. Peter Casey’a tallies range between 15 and 19 per cent.

  • 10:44

    Michael D Higgins is also performing well in early tallies in Limerick city, averaging at about 58 per cent, reports Kathryn Hayes. Boxes tallied in JFK on the north side of the city showed strong support for the current President with Peter Casey receiving about 23 per cent of first preference votes.

    Smaller boxes in rural parts of county Limerick showed more support for Casey who received about 39 per cent of first preference votes in smaller boxes tallied in Broadford and Bruree - the former ancestral home of Eamon DeValera.

    Speaking at the count centre in Limerick, Maurice Quinlivan said Sinn Féin is 'very disappointed' with Liadh Ní Riada's performance. He acknowledged she wasn't as well as known as other candidates but insisted it was not a mistake to run the MEP.

  • 10:47

    The latest from Olivia Kelly at the Convention Centre in Dublin:

    In Dublin Central with 59 per cent of boxes open, Higgins is on 69 per cent, Ní Riada is on 10.7 per cent, Casey 9.8 per cent, Freeman on 5.5 per cent Sean Gallagher on 3.4 per cent and Gavin Duffy on 1.2 per cent.

    There were 241 spoiled votes, more than twice the number so far than the 94 voter who gave Duffy their number one in Dublin Central.

    In Dublin South Central with 27 per cent of boxes open - Higgins 61.2 per cent, Casey 13.7, Ni Riada 9.5, Freeman 7.4, Gallagher 4.6 and Duffy 1.3

  • 10:54

    Peter Casey has said he would run for office, but not as a county councillor - he's aiming higher.

    From Olivia Kelly, Dublin Correspondent

    Independent presidential candidate Peter Casey said he will run for President again – unless he is Taoiseach at the time of the next presidential elections.

    Arriving at the Dublin count at the Convention Centre Mr Casey, who is set to come in as a strong second to Micheal D Higgins with just over 20 per cent of the vote according the tallies, said he was “disappointed” by that second place prediction.

    “I was disappointed because I really thought I had a very good chance of winning.” However he didn’t yet accept that he wouldn’t be the next President. “I thought that I would actually win and by the way I haven’t ruled it out yet.”

  • 10:56

    Mr Casey said his strong polling wasn’t unexpected. “The real reason I got a bump in poll because I spoke out and said `middle Ireland they the people who are hurting`. They got nothing out of the last budget and they are the ones paying all the bills.”

    Mr Casey said he did not believe his remarks in relation to Travellers in the later stages of the campaign had increased his vote and said he had “great respect” for the Travelling community.

    “If I had been successful I was going to suggest we invite all the Travelling community to move into the Phoenix Park for a five year period.”

    In relation to his future political ambitions, Mr Casey said he would run for office, but not as a county councillor.

    “I’ll definitely not be standing as a county councillor, that’s far too much hard work they are the hardest working people,” he said. “They work so hard and they get paid a pittance.”

    But he does have his sights on higher office, and would run for president again.

    “Absolutely, but it could be a problem, I could be the Taoiseach then I’ll have to check that out constitutionally, I’ll have to decide where I can have the biggest impact.”

  • 11:05

    Meanwhile, the communications director for the Joan Freeman campaign, Natasha Fennell, has defended the candidate’s performance in the election, saying that Ms Freeman had retained her dignity throughout the campaign and had achieved her aim of highlighting mental health issues, reports Vivienne Clarke.

    “You can’t buy respect or dignity, she retained that,” Ms Fennell told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

    Ms Freeman’s vote had stayed the same throughout the campaign, she said, and she had not resorted to attacking Michael D Higgins as some of the other candidates had done.

    “She ran a very strong campaign. Joan Freeman is very happy.”

    However, Ms Fennell said that the issue of funding a presidential campaign needs to be addressed as at present if a candidate did not have financial backing they could not run.

    The loss of her deposit would not be an easy pill for Ms Freeman to swallow, said Ms Fennell.

  • 11:11

    Tallies of over 40 per cent of boxes in Galway West show President Michael D Higgins running at over 64 per cent, with Independent candidate Peter Casey slipping back from an earlier 23 per cent to 20 per cent, reports Lorna Siggins.

    The tallies by Labour and Sinn Féin of over 80 of 200 boxes in the constituency show Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada at over 5 per cent, and independents Joan Freeman at over 5 per cent, Sean Gallagher at just over 3 per cent and Gavin Duffy at 1.4 per cent.

  • 11:12

    Early trends show Mr Higgins's Connemara supporters gave Ms Ní Riada their second preference. City boxes show a mix of second preferences, but Mr Casey is polling well.

  • 11:14
  • 11:19

    Speaking on Morning Ireland, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said the Government needs to look at the 20 per cent of people who voted for Peter Casey and respond to them, reports Vivienne Clarke.

    Exit polls had suggested that Mr Casey had “reached across the political divide”, said the Minister.

    Ms Doherty said Mr Casey's comments on the Travelling community during the campaign had put him in the media spotlight. “That’s where it started. He pushed people’s buttons and people started to listen. You have to question his motives.”

    The Minister said she did not agree or like the comments he had made, but that she will listen to the people who responded to him. “We have to recognise there is a disconnect between Travellers and the rest of the community.”

    She added that his comments on social welfare recipients had been “disingenuous” particularly “coming from a millionaire.”

    “A lot of people are still hurting. We need to look at that 20 per cent who voted for Peter Casey and respond to them.”

  • 11:20

    In Galway- East, 30 per cent of boxes tallied earlier showed Mr Higgins recording almost 51 per cent, Mr Casey on 33.8 per cent, Mr Gallagher on 5.7 per cent, Ms Freeman on 4.4 per cent, Ms Ni Riada on 3.2 per cent and Mr Duffy on 1.5 per cent. Boxes in Raheen, Gort and Gortanumera showed an overwhelming vote in favour of Mr Higgins.

    In Roscommon-Galway, a tally of 27 per cent of boxes showed Mr Higgins at 45.4 per cent, Mr Casey on 31.4 per cent, Mr Gallagher on 8.5 per cent, Ms Freeman on 5.9 per cent, Ms Ni Riada on 5.8 per cent and Mr Duffy on 2.9 per cent.

  • 11:24
  • 11:30

    Peter Casey, speaking on the Marian Finucane show on RTÉ, said he would join a political party or form his own. He said he's a compassionate socialist, but does not feel he fits into any political party.

    "We do need to look after the people who need looking after. Can't give social welfare if there's no money in the kitty."

    Mr Casey said he competed in the Presidential election because it was an opportunity to make a difference.

    He again denied that it was his comments about the Travelling community that had led to his increase in the polls. "I appealed to people who want to get on the housing ladder, people who feel left out."

  • 11:32
    The voter turnout is estimated at about 45 per cent, the lowest of any presidential election since the State was founded. Higgins's projected re-election may also be by the highest margin ever in any of the eight presidential elections since the foundation of the State.  
  • 11:44
    Despite the strong forecast for President Higgins, his support has fallen over the campaign. Meanwhile, support for businessman Peter Casey saw a late surge which left him with 21 per cent of the vote in the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll. Harry McGee looks look at the key moments of the presidential campaign here.
  • 11:49

    If you're just joining us, counting of the presidential election vote is under way in centres across the country with early tallies showing Michael D Higgins is set to be re-elected President of Ireland. Full report here.

    Counting for the blasphemy referendum will commence once a winner has been declared in the presidential election; The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll published on Friday night suggests voters have overwhelmingly (69 per cent) chosen to remove the article from the Constitution.

  • 12:00

    Update from Barry Roche in Cork:

    One Carrigaline box from Cork South Central again re-iterated just how comfortable Michael D Higgins’s victory will be, with Peter Casey again leading the other challengers in the race for runner-up spot.

    Mr Higgins took 222 votes with Peter Casey on 54, Joan Freeman on 24, Liadh Ní Riada on 23, Sean Gallagher on 18 and Gavin Duffy managing just eight votes of the 349 votes cast.

  • 12:03

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says it was not a mistake to run a candidate in the presidential election, reports Vivienne Clarke.

    Ms McDonald told RTÉ: “This was an election for President. We understood as a political party we should field a candidate.”

  • 12:08

    Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has warned of the danger of “over interpreting” the results of the presidential election, telling RTÉ that the size of the Peter Casey vote was an example of “a kick back against the system.”

    People were not happy with the status quo, he said.

    There is a big difference between sound bites and following through with an actual policy, he added.

    Mr Martin complimented Michael D Higgins for “an outstanding campaign” and said that the public were obviously very happy with how Mr Higgins had conducted himself in office.

    He had discharged his duties and had gauged the mood of the country very well, said Mr Martin.

  • 12:28
    Pat Leahy has outlined the five things we learned from the presidential election campaign: Number 1: Six is too many candidates for a one-seat election.  
  • 12:44

    From Marie O'Halloran

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has defended her party's decision to contest the presidential election.

    Speaking to reporters at the Convention Centre, she said she was disappointed with the result and wished her party's candidate had polled more strongly.

    But she said: "I stand absolutely over our decision.”

    She said the presidency should not be 14 years "without punctuation" for a role that costs the State €8 million.

    Asked the implications for her leadership she said: “I am the leader of our party. I’ll lead on.”

    Ms McDonald criticised other parties for abdicating their responsibilities as leaders and for acting as "observers”. She said it should be standard but that election should be held every seven years.

  • 12:55

    Vivienne Clarke reports: Peter Casey told RTE that he is considering taking a media course. “I always say what’s on my mind," he said.

    It is important that politicians in Ireland “wake up and listen to the people.”

    He said he will not be “sitting around for too long. I am definitely going to do something that will make an impact.”

    The candidate also revealed that he had been seriously ill eight weeks ago, suffering a number of illnesses, including e-coli and Guillain-Barre syndrome. But he would like to have started the campaign sooner. He also said that a campaign did not have to cost “hundreds of thousands.”

    His campaign had cost “well under €100,000,” he said.

    He also said he had decided to pull out of the campaign following the response to his comments on the Travelling community. But did not do so on receiving over 3,000 emails from people encouraging him to stay in the race.

    Speaking about the Stardust Disaster, Mr Casey said it was a disgrace that the issue “has not yet been sorted out. I will be their spokesperson. It should have been addressed years ago.”

    Mr Casey said that the building was now owned by Nama, therefore the State and it should be knocked down and a memorial put on the site.

  • 12:56
  • 13:07

    Pavee Point has released a statement congratulating Michael D Higgins "on his resounding re-election as President of Ireland", thanking "all those candidates that fought the Presidential campaign fairly and without resorting to denigrating a vulnerable minority".

    The statement said: "There is no doubt that there was a protest vote in this election that played to the advantage of one candidate and that not all of this protest vote should be equated to being motivated by prejudice against Travellers.

    "However, it is important that we also do not gloss over the fact that one candidate sought to exploit prejudice against a small and marginalized community – the Traveller community in Ireland - for his own political ends and the warning that this sends out to the political system in Ireland.

    "There is a complacency within the public discourse in Ireland that somehow we are immune to the nasty populism evident in other European countries and beyond and that we do not have a problem with racism in Ireland. Media often struggle to deal with this populism and this was sometimes evident in the recent campaign in Ireland when it apparently livened up a dull campaign.

    "Pavee Point notes that there has been no clear anti racism strategy in Ireland since the National Action Plan Against Racism ‘Planning for Diversity’ was completed in 2008 (and was never renewed)."

  • 13:08
    “This election should make it clear to everyone that we need strong anti-racism measures in this country,” said Pavee Point co director Martin Collins. “We need stronger legislation in relation to incitement to hatred and hate speech and we need measures which explain the dynamics of racism and discrimination so that people can become more aware of these issues. We need a new National Plan Against Racism”
  • 13:08
  • 13:10

    The turnout in parts of Jobstown, near Tallaght, is as low as 9 per cent, according to informal tallies of votes in the Dublin South-West constituency, reports Paul Cullen.

    Local Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart said such a low turnout was a cause for concern. "It shows we're getting into a dangerous situation, where many people think politics have nothing to do with them."

  • 13:14

    First-count results for the six Dublin constituencies being counted at the Citywest convention centre in west Dublin are expected in mid-afternoon.

    In Dublin Fingal with 90 boxes tallied out of 145 in the constituency, Michael D Higgins is on 58.8 per cent, Peter Casey on 17.6 per cent and Liadh Ni Ríada on 9 per cent. Joan Freeman is coming in at 6.3 per cent, Sean Gallagher on 5.7 per cent while Gavin Duffy brings up the rear on 2.8 per cent.

  • 13:15

    Casey is polling more strongly in urban centres such as Swords than in more rural parts of the constituency. Ní Riada's vote is similar to the 9 per cent Sinn Féin secured in the constituency in the last general election, but party workers said her vote seemed to be more transfer-friendly than Sinn Féin's has been traditionally.

    In Dublin West, with 87 per cent of boxes tallied, Michael D Higgins leads the way on 61 per cent, followed by Peter Casey on 18 per cent. Joan Freeman in in third spot with 7.3 per cent followed by Liadh Ní Riada on 6 per cent, well down on Sinn Féin's general election vote of 14 per cent. Sean Gallagher has 5 per cent of the vote and Gavin Duffy has 2 per cent.

  • 13:24
  • 13:32

    Labour leader Brendan Howlin said there should “probably” be an election every seven years for the presidency, reports Marie O'Halloran.

    “I’m really glad Michael D will be in the Aras in the challenging times ahead," he said.

    He believed there would be a bounce for his party with Mr Higgins’s re-election, because he espoused quintessential Labour values of social solidarity while another candidate “talked in terms of division and separation”.

    Asked about Peter Casey, he said: “I’m not saying it was racist I think it was opportunistic. I think it was a line he wanted to be heard and he used it in that sense.

    “I wouldn’t agree with much of what he said and I think a lot of what he said was designed to break through. When you’re on 1 per cent you need to say something discordant and he got traction for that.

    “When you had three Dragons there was nothing unique about it and there are many across the world who who say discordant things and you get attention."

  • 13:34
    (Subscriber Only)
  • 13:37
  • 13:39

    Fintan O'Toole: "It is easy to mock Higgins for taking himself seriously. In an era of clowns and showmen, of deadly serious threats to civilisation, it matters greatly that he does so.

    "And it matters that a small country, in giving him such a ringing endorsement, thinks so too."

    Full piece here (Subscriber Only)

  • 13:41

    More tallies from west Co Limerick suggest President Higgins will take it, but Peter Casey is a strong second and Liadh Ni Riada is ahead of the rest of the pack.

  • 13:43

    Kathryn Hayes reports: Peter Casey polled extremely well in west Limerick towns and villages with high traveller populations including Rathkkeale, and Abebeyfeale. He also topped the poll in one of the Askeaton boxes according to some tallies. In the village of Glin, Casey received 36 per cent of first preference votes in one box tallied.

    Read the full report of tallies here

  • 13:48

    The prospect of presidential runner-up Peter Casey running for future office was causing some disquiet at the Dublin the Convention Centre, Olivia Kelly reports, though his chances at a Dáil seat were not highly rated.

    “He seems to be a guy that doesn’t take things very seriously and says things based on no research,” Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said about Mr Casey. “He is somebody who is ill informed, divisive and deliberately controversial.”

    However Mr O Ríordáin said Mr Casey’s comments in relation to Travellers and social welfare recipients, were redolent of the rise of the political right in other counties.

  • 13:49

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Mr Casey’s “negative commentary” was an “age-old tactic” in Irish politics.

    “It should be no surprise that saying negative things about Travellers gets traction among a certain section of our population," she said.

  • 13:50
  • 13:51
  • 14:14
  • 14:16
    Formal Dublin city counts getting unde way in the Convention Centre. Photograph: Olivia Kelly  
    Formal Dublin city counts getting unde way in the Convention Centre. Photograph: Olivia Kelly  
  • 14:20
  • 14:24
    This tweet was the first I heard of the pizza.
  • 14:32

    Tallies of some 73 per cent of boxes in Galway West show President Michael D Higgins running at over 61 per cent, representing a two per cent increase on his overall final vote in his home constituency seven years ago, reports Lorna Siggins.

    The same Galway West tally indicated Independent candidate Peter Casey running at 22.5 per cent, while about half of boxes tallied in Galway East showed a 33 per cent vote for the Derry businessman.

    The Galway East tallies reflected a 53.56 per cent vote for Mr Higgins, while Mr Gallagher recorded 4.64 per cent, Ms Freeman 4.36 per cent, Ms Ní Riada 2.82 per cent and Mr Duffy 1.44 per cent.

  • 14:34

    From Marie O'Halloran at Dublin Castle

    Peter Casey has said there is no longer any need for him to publish his tax returns as the presidential election was over.

    He also described the turnout for him as a “frustration vote”, when speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle.

    Asked about his tax returns he said “I am totally tax compliant in every jurisdiction”.

    He had previously said he was in the process of changing his tax status as he is currently not tax resident in Ireland.

    Asked if he would run for the European Parliament he said “I’m not sure that would be the course for me”.

    Earlier on Saturday he said he would make an announcement at 1 pm about his next step but said at Dubllin Castle later that he would make a decision “next week”.

    He also appeared to do a U-turn on comments he made earlier on Saturday that there was a need for a new political party. “There are enough political parties.”

  • 14:51

    Galway East is the first constituency to return a result in the presidential election: Michael D Higgins came first with 53.43 per cent (18,011 votes). Peter Casey came second with 33.1 per cent (11,227 votes). Full results here

  • 14:53
  • 15:04
  • 15:06

    The Taoiseach has said a referendum will be held next year to ask whether the right to vote in the presidential election should be extended to Irish citizens living outside the state.

    Speaking at a dinner in Derry on Friday, Leo Varadkar said the next round of referenda was “pencilled in” for the same time as the European and local elections in May 2019.

  • 15:06
  • 15:07
  • 15:12

    Nama has issued a statement in response to Mr Casey's comment that the building where the Stardust disaster occurred was owned by the agency.

    "Some media outlets are reporting comments by Mr Peter Casey today that Nama has an involvement in a property on the site of the Stardust disaster.

    "Nama has never had any involvement with this property."

  • 15:26
    Analysis from Pat Leahy:"The most important fact of the presidential election is that Michael D Higgins won with a resounding majority, the largest ever in a national election.

    "There has been, and continues to be, an understandably intense focus on the 20-odd per cent that Peter Casey secured in the election. Fair enough: that 20 per cent is important. But the other 80 per cent is important too, no?

    "And that overwhelming majority was dominated by the huge vote for Higgins – an intellectual, a socialist, a man of letters, a man of the left."

    Read more

  • 15:37
    Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy arriving to Dublin Castle earlier this afternoon. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
    Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy arriving to Dublin Castle earlier this afternoon. Photograph Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
  • 15:46

    Cork South-Central result just in: Michael D Higgins takes 60.5 per cent, followed by Peter Casey (18.3 per cent), Liadh Ní Riada (7.7 per cent), Joan Freeman (6.4 per cent) Sean Gallagher (5.4 per cent), Gavin Duffy (1.6 per cent).

    Full results breakdown here

  • 15:48
  • 15:53

    Dublin Central, the first Dublin constituency called in the Convention Centre is in:
    Michael D Higgins 10,094 votes,
    Liadh Ní Riada 1,749
    Peter Casey 1,692
    Joan Freeman 868
    Sean Gallagher 529
    Gavin Dufy 203

  • 16:00
  • 16:17

    Donegal result is in: Higgins 15,052 votes; Casey 12,952; Ni Riada 4,524; Gallagher 3,684; Freeman 2,563; Duffy 747.  

    Full table here

  • 16:20

    Result in from Offaly: Higgins 13,977 votes; Casey 9,253; Gallagher 2,672; Ni Riada 1,444; Freeman 1,691 and Duffy 673

  • 16:21

    Just in - Dun Laoghaire constituency, first count results:

    Peter Casey 5,872
    Gavin Duffy 1,000
    Joan Freeman 2,866
    Sean Gallagher 2,044
    Michael D Higgins 31,513
    Liadh Ni Riada 1,596

    Electorate: 96,825
    Total poll: 45,433
    Spoiled votes: 542
    Total valid poll: 44,891

  • 16:27
  • 16:28
  • 16:32
    The first count results are rolling in steadily now. This just in from Paul Cullen:  

    Dublin Mid-West constituency, first count results

    Peter Casey 5,128

    Gavin Duffy 526

    Joan Freeman 2,734

    Sean Gallagher 1,433

    Michael D Higgins 17,196

    Liadh Ni Riada 1,978


    Electorate: 72,006

    Total poll: 29,399

    Spoiled votes: 404

    Total valid poll: 28,995

    Turnout 40.8 per cent

  • 16:35

    Gavin Duffy says that going for the presidency was “like applying for a job that you now realise was not available," Vivienne Clarke reports.

    He told RTE he was disappointed that he had failed to connect with the voters on issues about which he felt passionately, but he was glad he had participated.

    However, Mr Duffy was concerned that one of the issues about which he had raised concerns had ended up being the issue about which everyone spoke. He said that sometimes when economies are in difficulty the public falls into “a divide and conquer” mindset and “go after” minorities and that was what had happened.

    Peter Casey had come into the campaign and “thrown grenades”, after that getting conversations started on other issues was very difficult. This had been compounded when Mr Casey had “doubled down” on his controversial comments about the Travelling community.

    Mr Duffy said he did not think Mr Casey’s comments were part of a deliberate strategy. “It was just Peter reacting, trying to catch the wind," he said.

    “Let’s not overreact to it.”

  • 16:36

    Duffy told RTE he felt unease when someone “comes onto the pitch and starts blaming everyone else for their woes, like Trump and Farage.” He said he had been “flabbergasted” when Sean Gallagher told him he was running again. He was also surprised when Mr Casey announced his decision to contest the election.

    “Peter wasn’t well in August, we were all very concerned for him. It shows how he bounces back.”

  • 16:41

    Duffy said his only regret in the campaign was losing money, Marie O'Halloran reports.

    “Any time you lose money you’ve a regret. That’s a regret,” he said. Pressed about how much it cost him he said it was “definitely over €100,000”.

    He did not find the campaign “bruising”. It was a “test of your values and your character”. He added that “I would be really annoyed if I hadn’t contested.”

    But speaking to reporters as he arrived at Dublin Castle he said: “I’m the only person in the country who’s surprised by Peter (Casey) and the performance”.

    He questioned the idea that there was a strategy to Mr Casey’s campaign. “If there was a strategy you’d have to attribute some evil genius to him which I don’t think he deserves," he said.

    Duffy did not rule out running for public office but “I think there’s a perception amongst the public that it’s a bit audacious that the first office you run for is the head of State.... there’s two things in life, you either succeed or you learn.”

    He was worried at the trends in other parts of the world where people start picking on minorities: “The very reason I entered that was to avoid that.”

    He called on the Traveller community to not exaggerate the response to comments about them. He said “it just played to the frustrations that some people feel out there. I don’t think it’s a specific minority issue.”

    He said his son had sent him a message that “he was proud of his parents, what we’d done and that we didn’t go to certain places”.

    Mr Duffy said he was very positive about Ireland’s future “as long as we don’t go the route of other countries like the US, the UK and parts of Europe that’s emerging and we saw a little bit of that in this election. But it didn’t grab the wind the way it has elsewhere.”

    Today “was about President Higgins winning a fantastic result, going back with a strong mandate for the next seven years, even though I contested him on that”.

  • 16:42
    This just in from Olivia Kelly:  

    Counting completed in Dublin North West Peter Casey   3,737 votes, Gavin Dufy 451, Joan Freeman 1,546, Sean Gallagher 1,121, Michael D Higgins 14,728, Liadh Ní Riada 1,932

  • 16:43

    Dublin South-West constituency, first count results

    Peter Casey 8,324 (18.4 per cent)

    Gavin Duffy 929 (2 per cent)

    Joan Freeman 3,011 (6.7 per cent)

    Sean Gallagher 2,237 (4.9 per cent)

    Michael D Higgins 28,151 (62.2 per cent)

    Liadh Ni Riada 2,584 (5.7 per cent)


    Electorate:  107,134

    Total poll: 45,774

    Spoiled votes: 538

    Total valid poll: 45,236


    Turnout:  42.7 per cent

  • 16:49
  • 16:52
  • 16:56

    Sean Gallagher said he would have loved to have got a better result “but that’s the nature of elections and the people have spoken”, Marie O'Halloran reports.

    The two-time presidential candidate said he would not make any decisions now on a future role in public office but said he knows that "Ireland will face a lot of challenges in the coming years" and if he could in some way, he would continue to use his skills and abilities.

    Asked which of the two election results was harder to take, he said “the most important thing today is that nobody has died, my wife and family are well, democracy has spoken and we move on to the next important things in life.”

  • 16:56

    Gallagher told reporters as he arrived at Dublin Castle that the challenges of the campaign were that it was very short, there was small number of debates and it was hard to build momentum.

    Asked if he regretted running he said “not at all”.

    He said Peter Casey’s vote was probably a protest vote but he did not know what it signified.

    He said the count day “is not a day for post mortems. It’s Michael D’s day.”

  • 17:00

    Three more first-count results are in:

    Dublin West constituency:

    Peter Casey 4,887
    Gavin Duffy 514
    Joan Freeman 2,053
    Sean Gallagher 1,430
    Michael D Higgins 17,545
    Liadh Ni Riada 1,842

    Dublin Rathdown constituency:

    Peter Casey 4,385
    Gavin Duffy 711
    Joan Freeman 2,177
    Sean Gallagher 1,487
    Michael D Higgins 21,704
    Liadh Ni Riada 1,141

    Dublin Fingal constituency:

    Peter Casey 7,505
    Gavin Duffy 986
    Joan Freeman 2,643
    Sean Gallagher 2,369
    Michael D Higgins 27,039
    Liadh Ni Riada 2,290

  • 17:09
    That's it from me - Colin Gleeson is taking over here for the evening, so stick with the liveblog for more results, updates and reaction.
  • 17:17

    Good evening and thanks for joining me for what remains of today’s count in the 2018 Irish presidential election.

    My name is Colin Gleeson and I’ll be bringing you the counts and reaction over the next few hours as incumbent Michael D Higgins sweeps to victory.

    If you’d like to comment or get involved, you can email me at cgleeson@irishtimes.com or tweet me @ColinGleesonIT

  • 17:18

    A count result just in from Paul Cullen in the Dublin Fingal constituency

    Peter Casey 7,505 (17.5 per cent)
    Gavin Duffy 986 (2.3 per cent)
    Joan Freeman 2,643 (6.2 per cent)
    Sean Gallagher 2,369 (5.5 per cent)
    Michael D Higgins 27,039 (63.1 per cent)
    Liadh Ni Riada 2,290 (5.3 per cent)

    Electorate: 96,612
    Total poll: 43,293
    Spoiled votes: 461
    Total valid poll: 42,832

    Turnout: 44.8 per cent

  • 17:20

    Apparently Sean Gallagher isn’t ruling out another run at it at some point in the future.

    God help us all.

  • 17:21
  • 17:25

    This just in from Marie O’Halloran at Dublin Castle

    The presidential election has cost Sinn Fein an estimated €200,000 according to party leader Mary Lou McDonald.

    “Election campaigns cost money,” she said. “Political parties and political leaders make politics and you lead or else you sit on the sit on the sidelines or you sit in the dressing rooms,” and Sinn Fein would never do that.

    She was speaking to media as she accompanied party candidate Liadh Ni Riada who said she hoped it would be the last presidential election where people from the North could not vote.

    She attributed her poor showing, an estimated 7 per cent to the party’s general support of 15 per cent, to the presidential election being different to political elections. “It’s much more personality based” and it had a lower turnout.

    She did not find the campaign hugely bruising. She said it was a “tough, invasive” campaign but “you either choose to put yourself forward and take that or you always regret it”.

    The campaign “was very much focused on the electorate themselves and they obviously gave their message and they’re happy with Michael D.”

    Ms McDonald repeated earlier comments that it was the right strategy for the party to contest the election.

    “It is right to have an election for the first citizen. It is the highest position in the land.”

  • 17:28

    Counting has been completed in Dublin South Central, our reporter Olivia Kelly tells me.

    Peter Casey: 3,794
    Gavin Dufy: 441
    Joan Freeman: 2,039
    Sean Gallagher: 1,105
    Michael D Higgins: 17,930
    Liadh Ní Riada: 2,282

  • 17:31
  • 17:35

    One third of the electorate in Co Limerick voted for Peter Casey in the Presidential election, Kathryn Hayes reports.

    Michael D Higgins secured 48 per cent of the vote in the county.

    However, as tallies indicated Mr Casey performed well in rural parts of the constituency with his final result at 34 per cent.

    Michael D Higgins’ first preference result was almost 10 per cent higher in Limerick city where he received 57.69 per cent of first preference votes.

    Peter Casey received 23.9 per cent in Limerick city.

    Sinn Fein candidate Liadh Ni Riada received just 6 per cent of first preferences in Limerick city and 4.5 per cent in County Limerick.

  • 17:37

    The first count for the Galway West constituency has been completed

    Total electorate 109,523

    Total poll 48,057
    Total invalid poll 575
    Total valid poll 47,482

    Casey, Peter 10,821
    Duffy, Gavin 660
    Freeman, Joan 2,445
    Gallagher, Sean 1,783
    Higgins, Michael 29,612
    Ni Riada, Liadh 2,161

  • 17:38

    This just in from Paul Cullen at Citywest

    Michael D Higgins secured just over 70 per cent of the vote in Dun Laoghaire, confirming the constituency’s reputation as the liberal heart of Ireland.

    The 31,513 votes secured by the incumbent in the constituency represented 70.2 per cent of all votes cast. His performance in neighbouring Rathdown was almost as strong, at 68.7 per cent.

    With all six first counts completed at the Citywest convention centre, Mr Higgins has, unsurprisingly, topped the poll in each of the Dublin constituencies counted here.

    In contrast, Peter Casey’s lowest vote, at 13.1 per cent, was in Dun Laoghaire, and in none of the six constituencies did the Donegal businessman top 20 per cent.

    Joan Freeman won the battle for the minor places in all six constituencies; her best result was 9.4 per cent in Dublin Mid-West, where she lives.

  • 17:40

    Presidential candidate Joan Freeman has said she did “extraordinarily well” in the election and had got everyone talking about mental health, reports Marie O’Halloran.

    She was not disappointed with the result. “I kept it steady throughout the whole campaign. That again was a wonderful achievement. My percentage didn’t falter and I was really pleased with that.”

    She did not believe the result for Dragons’ Den businessman Peter Casey was a sign of a different Ireland. “We shouldn’t think like that. Peter Casey is a very nice man. He said last night that he’s not racist and that’s what we need to believe.”

    Asked why he did so well she said: “Because he’s a very nice man.”

    Ms Freeman did not find the campaign personally difficult but she said as she arrived at Dublin Castle for the formal result, that “for the ordinary Joe Soap it’s difficult to go against the parties if you don’t have your own wealth as well. That was the difficult part.”

    She laughed when asked if she would run for any further political office and said “No, I don’t think so. No.”

    Asked her message to President Higgins, she said:

    “I’m so pleased for you Michael and the very best of luck and you ran a dignified campaign.”

  • 17:41

    First presidential election count in Mayo has been completed, reports Lorna Siggins.

    Electorate 91,412
    Spoiled 593
    Total Poll 42,027

    Casey: 12,850
    Duffy: 937
    Freeman: 2,663
    Gallagher: 2,235
    Higgins: 20,642
    NÍ Riada: 2,107

  • 17:45
    And who could have seen that coming?
  • 17:54

    The first count for the constituency of Louth, which includes parts of East Meath, has been completed, reports Elaine Keogh.

    Electorate: 110,256
    Total poll: 45,584 [turnout is 41.3 per cent]
    Spoiled vote: 569 [1.25 per cent]
    Valid Poll: 45,015

    Casey: 7,223 [16.05 per cent]
    Duffy: 2,101 [4.67 per cent]
    Freeman: 2,291 [5.09 per cent]
    Gallagher: 2,934 [6.52 per cent]
    Higgins: 26,291 [58.4 per cent]
    Ni Riada: 4,175 [9.27 per cent]

  • 17:57

    Another completed count, this time from the Longford-Westmeath, reports Liam Cosgrove.

    Electorate: 92354
    Total poll: 38385
    Spoiled votes: 443
    Total valid poll: 37942
    Turnout: 41.56

    Peter Casey: 12,005
    Gavin Duffy: 829
    Joan Freeman: 2,122
    Sean Gallagher: 2,873
    Michael D Higgins: 18,024
    Liadh Ni Riada: 2,089

  • 18:07
  • 18:12

    Peter Casey has described himself as “left of centre” this evening after being asked what party he might best fit into.

    Earlier, he said he was “a compassionate socialist”.


  • 18:13

    Counting has been completed in Dublin Bay South, Olivia Kelly reports.

    Peter Casey: 3,433
    Gavin Duffy: 626
    Joan Freeman: 1,884
    Sean Gallagher: 1,116
    Michael D Higgins: 20,765
    Liadh Ní Riada: 1,221

  • 18:20
  • 18:23

    Counting has been completed in Dublin Bay North, which is the final constituency in the Convention Centre, reports Olivia Kelly.

    Peter Casey: 8,009
    Gavin Duffy: 1,010
    Joan Freeman: 3,372
    Sean Gallagher: 2,500
    Michael D Higgins: 32,198
    Liadh Ní Riada: 3,315

    Massive win for Higgins there.

  • 18:28

    Peter Casey has been speaking live to RTE News.

    He says the vote for him “reflects the degree of frustration across rural Ireland and middle Ireland”.

    On his decision to stay in the race after “taking the weekend off” to consider the matter, he says he received “more than 5,000 emails” in the space of 48 hours urging him to continue.

  • 18:30

    He repeats a lot of what he said earlier today, claiming the people “are tired of not being governed”.

    “They want to see something being done about the housing problem,” he says.

    He also references students and adults living at home with their parents because they can’t afford a home or get accommodation.

  • 18:32

    Caitriona Perry asks Casey about his comments on the Travelling Community.

    He claims that “isn’t where the vast majority of my support came from”, and again references “the people who get up early every day and go to work”.

    These people “can’t see light at the end of the tunnel”, he continues.

    Perry suggests that his support “seemed to sky rocket” after the comments on travellers.

    “People shouldn’t be allowed turn down houses three times,” Casey retorts, doubling down on his remarks.

    “Six beautiful house were sitting empty because the people wanted stables. I didn’t say anything I wouldn’t stand over, of course not.”

  • 18:35

    Perry asks Casey what the future holds.

    “I’m definitely staying in Ireland,” he says. “I have family in America but children in Ireland here now.”

    Perry interjects: “So will you run for election or not?”

    “It’s something me and my wife are talking about,” he says.

    Perry asks him specifically about the European elections, but Casey says he isn’t “a huge fan” of having to travel backwards and forwards between Brussels and Strasbourg.

    He earlier ruled out running for a local authority, remarking that county councillors have to do a lot of work for “a pittance”.

  • 18:38

    Claire Power, director of Michael D Higgins campaign, has told RTE that Higgins won because of his “inclusive vision to the presidency”.

    As to the future, she says he has “set out his stall”.

    “It is inclusive and respectful,” she adds.

    The people, Power says, resonated with “how he represents Ireland on the world stage” and this will be important “in challenging times ahead”.

  • 18:43

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is speaking to Caitriona Perry now.

    He says he is “very happy with the result today”.

    He calls it a “historic victory” for Higgins. “It looks like he’s going to get about a million votes,” Varadkar says.

  • 18:43

    Varadkar, perhaps alluding to the Casey vote, says Higgins has won the vote across all sectors of society: “rural, urban, young and old”.

    It is a “strong mandate”.

  • 18:44

    Perry asks Varadkar about the fact that one in five people voted for Casey despite his expressly requesting people not vote for him.

    “We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact this result is resounding,” Varadkar replies. “We shouldn’t forget who won here and that was President Higgins.”

  • 18:45

    Varadkar says there were “different elements” to the Casey vote.

    “Some of it was certain anti-traveller sentiment and I can’t condone that,” he says.

    “Others were registering a protest vote, and Government has to listen to that and respect that.”

  • 18:48

    This just in from Lorna Siggins

    A failure to stamp presidential election voting papers in the Galway West constituency resulted in a large number of votes having to be discounted.

    The total invalid poll in Galway West was 575 votes, and it is understood that this included several hundred papers which had been correctly filled out, but which had been rendered invalid by not being stamped at polling stations.

    Spoiled votes in western constituencies including one ballot paper with a vote cast for Donald Trump from a box in Ballindine, south Mayo.

    Other messages on ballot papers which had to be discounted ranged from “waste of money” to several anti-abortion sentiments.

    A number of papers had “Christ is King” and several other religious messages inscribed.

    Tally volunteers also noticed that indelible marker was used on some papers, rather than the pencil provided for at polling stations.

  • 18:53

    Our political editor Pat Leahy’s analysis from earlier is a sober take on the day’s events, as he urges people not to get too carried away with the Casey vote.

    “Casey is enjoying his moment in the sun on Saturday,” writes Leahy. “He might found a new party. Or join one. He might stand for office. He might not. He’ll let us know soon. He might run for president again, if he’s not taoiseach. (Sure maybe he could do both?)

    “Students should be able to live on university campuses. People should be able get on the housing ladder. We are too focused on Dublin. We should use the networks of the diaspora. It’s a disgrace that elderly women are on hospital trolleys. And so on and so on, brain-farting out soundbites and platitudes.

    “This isn’t the rise of a new political force. It’s taxi-driver stuff. It’s the end of the bar in the golf club after a long day. It’s Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s dad with a Derry accent.”

    You can read it here.

  • 18:55

    The other big story of the day is a poor showing for Sinn Fein, which Harry McGee is writing about here.

    “The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll could not be easily talked away by Sinn Féin,” he says. “Eight per cent support for Liadh Ní Riada was a failure, no matter which way you tried to gloss the figures.

    “In the absence of Peter Casey’s remarkable late surge the weak Sinn Féin performance would be the story of this campaign.”

  • 18:56
  • 19:05

    Some reaction from Sinn Fein candidate Liadh Ni Riada.

    “You just have to take it on the chin,” she says, adding that presidential elections are more personality-based than many others.

    “It is different to political elections in that regard,” she says. “It is much more personality-based, and had we had more time people would have got to know me better, I am hoping.

    “It is always good to put yourself forward, it is always good to challenge yourself and ideas, that is really important.”

  • 19:06
  • 19:11

    Mo Salah for the Áras anyone?

    The Liverpool striker was one of many novelty would-be candidates (or would-not-be in most cases) that voters scrawled on their ballot paper.

    Others include US president Donald Trump, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Dublin football manager Jim Gavin and Dustin the Turkey.

    Comments on other spoiled votes in the constituency ranged from the polite ‘No thanks’ to ‘they’re all sh***e’ and included ‘None of the above’ and ‘Waste of time’.

    Investigative journalist and would-be candidate Gemma O’Doherty secured spoiled votes in a variety of constituencies including 50 in Dublin West. “She’s giving Gavin Duffy a run for his money,” a count official quipped.

    Poor Gavin.

    You can read our full piece here.

  • 19:14
  • 19:24

    So at this stage, 39 out of 40 constituencies have been declared and we should have official confirmation shortly that Michael D Higgins has been elected to a second term as President of Ireland with more than 800,000 votes.

    Casey is currently on 328,975 votes, which is just over 23 per cent of the vote.

    Our breakdown of the full results can be found here.

    I’m told the official declaration might be about half an hour away.

  • 19:25
  • 19:31

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked earlier if he would accept Peter Casey as a member of Fine Gael, reports Marie O’Halloran.

    Laughing, he replied: “I think that’s decidedly unlikely but anyone who wishes to join Fine Gael can apply but they have to be willing to sign up to our values so I think that would be difficult for him.”

    The Taoiseach said he would prefer a five year term for the presidency, which would require he would not commit the party to an election every time the presidential term was finished.

    He said the election had evolved to become an office that was in the ownership of the political parties.

    He said Fine Gael considered their options and they saw that Mr Higgins had done an excellent job and would be endorsed by the Irish people.

  • 19:32

    Michael D Higgins has arrived at Dublin Castle with his wife Sabina.

    He’s waving to photographers, assembled media, and members of the public.

    Spontaneous applause and cheering breaks out as he enters the building.

  • 19:33
  • 19:34

    Higgins and Sabina are embracing Sean Gallagher and his wife.

    They’re exchanging a few words.

  • 19:37

    Liadh Ní Riada and Joan Freeman have now walked over to embrace the President and his wife.

    It’s all very happy-clappy at this stage, and sure why would it be any other way.

  • 19:37
    Higgins is now taking to the stage with Sabina.
  • 19:38
    All the candidates have joined Higgins on the stage as the returning officer prepares to declare Higgins the winner.
  • 19:40
    Barry Ryan, presidential returning officer, gives the result in both Irish and English.
  • 19:41
    Cheers for Casey as his final tally is called at 342,727.
  • 19:42

    Gavin Duffy: 32,198

    Joan Freeman: 87,908

    Sean Gallagher: 94,5144

  • 19:43

    Big cheers for Micael D Higgins as his vote is called at 822,566.

    The quota is 736,951, and Higgins is declared elected to the office of President of Ireland.

  • 19:44

    Liadh Ni Riada’s final tally was 93,987.

  • 19:45

    Higgins is speaking now in Irish.

    He thanks the people and mentions equality and the future we want to build together.

  • 19:47

    Speaking in English now, he says: “I want to acknowledge the offer of public service that my fellow candidates have made in standing for this important role as president of Ireland.”

    “There are so many to thank,” he says.

    Higgins says he was “deeply moved” by all the support he got cross-party.

    He says he is grateful to his campaign team and looks forward to thanking them properly later, as the crowd cheers.

  • 19:48

    He calls Ireland a “beautiful republic that is just coming into being”.

    He accepts the mandate “with humility but also with determination and excitement”.

    “Our journey is underway and includes all age categories,” he says.

  • 19:49

    He calls for a “real republic”.

    Words matter, he says, words can hurt, heal, empower and divide.

  • 19:52

    The next seven years offer opportunities to do things in new ways, he says.

    It will be about “identifying and facing exclusions”, rather than just breaking down barriers.

    This would involve the “exercising of new invitations”.

    “A real republic is a republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully,” he says.

    “All sections of society must be treated with dignity and respect.”

  • 19:54

    Higgins is giving it gusto now.

    “Over the next seven years, I will represent your voice, Ireland’s voice, as we face challenges that are not local,” he says.

    He talks about climate change, trade, Brexit, and “the scourge of violence against women which must not be deferred but ended now”.

    This is “a time to be active rather than passive”.

  • 19:55

    “The presidency belongs not to any one person but to the people of Ireland,” he says.

    “I am so proud of our country. So proud to be a president for all of you and with all of you.”

  • 19:56
    Higgins has concluded speaking now and the rest of the candidates are to get a chance to thank their supporters and say a few words from the stage.
  • 20:04
  • 20:07

    Sean Gallagher is addressing the crowd at Dublin Castle.

    He says who questioned why we needed an election at all, that he hopes they will “never lose hope” that ordinary citizens can change the world.

  • 20:08

    Liadh Ni Riada begins her remarks in Irish and thanks Sinn Fein for putting her forward.

    She congratulations Higgins on another seven years and calls for a united Ireland.

  • 20:11

    “It was important we had this election,” she says.

    She continues that she is delighted for President Higgins and says the next seven years are important for Ireland.

    She looks forward to a united Ireland “being firmly on the agenda, particularly with Brexit coming down the tracks”.

    “Beirimis beo agus beidh la eile againn.”

  • 20:13

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is speaking and addresses Higgins directly.

    He says the mandate Higgins has received is a vote of confidence in the past seven years.

    Addressing the other candidates, he says he knows what it is like to lose an election, that it takes courage to stand, and that you learn more from your defeats than your victories.

    There can be no democracy without disagreement, he adds.

  • 20:16
  • 20:22

    With the presidential election over and done with, counting has begun on the blasphemy referendum.

    We’re not entirely sure how long they will count for, but there is a chance it will be wrapped up tonight also.

  • 20:35

    In the longest speech of any of the defeated candidates, Sean Gallagher expressed pride in the campaign he and his team had run. “Together we put forward ideas that can shape the future and today is not the end of those ideas,” he said.

    He said he wants an Ireland where “opportunity” wins out over “cynicism”. He added: “New ideas are driven by brave people willing to step into the arena rather than commentate from the side lines. “Looking back, I am proud of what we have achieved and the people we have impacted.”

  • 20:39

    In her speech, Joan Freeman singled out the president’s wife Sabina.

    “I’m so happy for you Sabina,” she said.

    She added: “The people who voted for me – thank you for that.”

    Ms Freeman also praised her fellow candidates.

    “It’s not easy to have yourself scrutinised, criticised and sometimes brutalised – but you all showed great courage,” she said.

    The defeated candidate said she had hoped to share a glass of wine with the five others who contested the election.

  • 20:40

    In his speech, Peter Casey congratulated President Higgins.

    “It’s been amazing, it’s been a real experience the past six weeks or so,” he said.

    Addressing the president, he said: “I’d like to congratulate President Higgins and wish he and Sabina a wonderful seven years.

    “I’m sure the sentiments you described so wonderfully there, I’m sure they are shared by everyone here – wishing you all the very, very best.”

  • 20:41

    Gavin Duffy joked that he was glad that times allotted for speeches were not in proportion to the number of votes gained.

    “Otherwise I would be departing straight away from the podium,” he said.

    Fair play to him.

  • 20:41

    Duffy said he did not regret standing.

    “Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I have regrets? No.”

    He said there were “huge changes” facing workplaces in Ireland and around the world.

    “I think it’s important we address those as a united society rather than allowing division,” he said.

  • 20:49

    Woohoo. We have a result in the blasphemy referendum in the constituency of Longford-Westmeath from Liam Cosgrove.

    Electorate: 92,354
    Total Poll: 38,283
    Spoiled votes: 627
    Total Valid Poll: 37,656

    Yes: 22,637 (60.1 per cent)
    No: 15,008 (39.9 per cent)

  • 21:08

    We have a result from the constituency of Kerry in the blasphemy referendum

    Yes: 28,373 (57.6 per cent)
    No: 20,873 (42.4 per cent)

  • 21:09

    And another in from the constituency of Louth

    Yes: 29,532 (65.65 per cent)
    No: 15,451 (34.35 per cent)

  • 21:11

    A few results rolling in now for the blasphemy referendum, with all so far voting to remove the offence of blasphemy from the constitution.


    Yes: 16,919 (57 per cent)
    No: 12,544 (43 per cent)

  • 21:12

    Another result in from Co Wexford:

    Yes: 31,085 (64 per cent)
    No: 17,315 (36 per cent)

  • 21:14

    Overall vote so far:

    Yes: 61.54 per cent
    No: 38.46 per cent

    Turnout: 43.77 per cent

  • 21:17

    Cavan Monaghan:

    Yes: 21,045 (56 per cent)
    No: 16,462 (43 per cent)

    Cork East:

    Yes: 23,751 (63 per cent)
    No: 14,046 (37 per cent)

    Cork South Central:

    Yes: 27,381 (69 per cent)
    No: 12,588 (31 per cent)

  • 21:19


    Yes: 20,312 (52 per cent)
    No: 19,108 (48 per cent)

    Limerick City:

    Yes: 21,702 (66 per cent)
    No: 10,948 (34 per cent)

  • 21:28

    For context, at present the Constitution says that publishing or saying something blasphemous is an offence punishable under law. Blasphemy is currently a criminal offence.

    The referendum will decide if the Constitution should continue to say that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a criminal offence.

    If the referendum is passed, the Oireachtas will be able to change the law so that blasphemy is no longer a criminal offence.

  • 21:30

    The legal definition of blasphemy is contained in the Defamation Act 2009.

    That Act says that a person publishes or utters something blasphemous if they

    - publish or say something that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion and

    - intend to cause that outrage.

  • 21:32

    Where a person is accused of the criminal offence of publishing or saying something blasphemous, it is a defence if they can prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they published or said.

    If convicted of this offence, a person may be fined up to €25,000. There is no prison sentence for the offence.

  • 21:49

    More results now.


    Yes: 30,438 (62 per cent)
    No: 18,699 (38 per cent)

    Cork North Central

    Yes: 22,379 (64 per cent)
    No: 12,452 (36 per cent)

    Cork North West

    Yes: 20,086 (60 per cent)
    No: 13,708 (40 per cent)

  • 21:51

    Dublin West

    Yes: 20,261 (71 per cent)
    No: 8,092 (29 per cent)

    Dun Laoghaire

    Yes: 33,988 (75 per cent)
    No: 11,095 (25 per cent)

  • 21:53

    Galway East

    Yes: 20,248 (61 per cent)
    No: 12,981 (39 per cent)

    Galway West

    Yes: 30,917 (66 per cent)
    No: 16,063 (34 per cent)

  • 21:56

    Meath East

    Yes: 19,671 (67 per cent)
    No: 9,798 (33 per cent)

    Meath West

    Yes: 16,768 (63 per cent)
    No: 9,988 (37 per cent)

  • 21:57


    Yes: 32,209 (59 per cent)
    No: 21,985 (41 per cent)


    Yes: 23,517 (66 per cent)
    No: 12,016 (34 per cent)

  • 22:03

    Like water to wine, suddenly we have results from all but four constituencies in the blasphemy referendum at this stage, and, by God, it looks like a resounding win for the Yes side.

    It’s currently 65 per cent on the Yes side and 35 per cent on the No side.

    So the offence of referendum is set to be carried decisively and the offence removed from Bunreacht na hEireann.

  • 22:06
    UK premier Theresa May has congratulated President Higgins on his re-election.
  • 22:16
    Just one constituency left in the blasphemy referendum so we’ll have a final declaration very soon.
  • 22:20

    It looks like all constituencies have voted Yes in the referendum.

    The only place it was remotely tight was Donegal where the Yes side won 51.5 per cent.

  • 22:22
    On the other hand, the highest Yes vote will be Dublin Bay South where 76.5 per cent of people voted to remove the blasphemy offence.
  • 22:31
  • 22:36
    You can find a breakdown of the results from every constituency here.
  • 22:59
    We're expecting a final declaration in the next ten minutes.
  • 23:02
    We have a declaration.
  • 23:05

    Final result

    Total votes: 1,489,694
    Invalid votes: 22,236
    Yes: 951,650
    No: 515,808

    So that’s a margin of 435,842 votes in favour of repeal.

  • 23:09

    Everything is wrapped up at this stage, which we’ll take as our cue to do likewise.

    The referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the constitution has been decisively carried with 65 per cent of the vote.

    Earlier, President Michael D Higgins secured a resounding victory to be returned as President of Ireland, scooping almost 56 per cent of the vote and taking the election on the first count. Go n-éirí leis!

    Thanks for being with us and stay tuned to irishtimes.com tomorrow morning when we’ll have plenty of news, analysis and reaction.