Counting for the marathon elections is underway in Ireland, with final results due to be announced in Dublin

The marathon of counting seats in the Irish European Parliament is underway, and Dublin is expected to be the first constituency to complete it.

In the local election battle, Fianna Fail was neck and neck with Fine Gael, winning 245 seats, with just a handful of 949 seats remaining to be declared.

In a landmark poll in Limerick for Ireland’s first directly elected mayor, independent candidate John Moran secured victory on Monday afternoon.

The results of last Friday’s three elections provided a political boost to coalition partners Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, while Sinn Fein launched a review after results fell well short of the party’s expectations.

Minister Eamon Ryan (left), Prime Minister Simon Harris (centre) and Tanaiste Micheal Martin standing behind the podiumMinister Eamon Ryan (left), Prime Minister Simon Harris (centre) and Tanaiste Micheal Martin standing behind the podium

Minister Eamon Ryan (left), Prime Minister Simon Harris (centre) and Tanaiste Micheal Martin downplay the prospect of an early general election (Damien Storan/PA)

Both main government parties received around 23% of the first preference vote, while Sinn Fein was left with 12%, marking a dramatic change in fortunes for the main opposition party that emerged from the 2020 general election, winning 24.5% of the popular vote. .

Although it will take several days for all the votes to be counted and the picture of Europe will be the last final one, the results so far have fueled speculation that the coalition may want to call a general election earlier than the current expected spring 2025 schedule.

However, the leaders of all three coalition parties – Prime Minister and Fine Gael leader Simon Harris, Tanaiste and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan – insisted they remained committed to maintaining the current government for the full term.

Speaking to the Cabinet on Tuesday, Harris said his intention on when to call a general election had not changed.

“I am very pleased with the results of the European and local elections. My party received the most preference votes in local elections than any other party,” he said.

“My party polled 23% of first-preference votes in local elections.

“We (have) a very good chance of winning four seats in the European Parliament.”

Martin said he was “delighted” that Fianna Fail remained the largest party in local government, but added he would assess where it had performed well and where he felt it could have done better.

Both Harris and Martin expressed concern about the increase in the number of elected MEPs with strongly right-wing views.

“I am concerned about the rise of the far right and I think that cannot be overstated in this country, but I think we have seen it grow significantly in some other European countries and we are not immune to it here,” Harris added.

“I think now is the time for centrist politicians to show courage and courage on important issues, because I believe that if we shirk key issues such as migration policy, it will create a vacuum that will be filled by the extremes.”

For her part, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who is currently grappling with questions about the party’s leadership, struck a defiant tone on Monday evening, urging Harris to “bring it on” and call a snap election.

Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly became the first MEP elected in Ireland, taking the first of five seats in the Southern Ireland constituency on Monday evening.

Fianna Fail’s Billy Kelleher is in position to take second place, but the final three places are believed to be too close to decide.

Independent TD Michael McNamara and Fianna Fail candidate and 1994 Eurovision host Cynthia Ni Mhurchu are second and third in the polls.

Ms Ni Mhurchu said she was “absolutely honored” to receive enough first-choice votes to stand for the seat.

Asked if she would have stood in the general election had she not become an MEP, she replied: “My experience in politics has been so positive that it would probably be very difficult for me to leave it all behind.”

Outgoing MEP Mick Wallace, Sinn Fein TD Kathleen Funchion and the Green Party’s Grace O’Sullivan also appear to be fighting for the final seat.

The returning officer expects the count in Cork to continue until Thursday.

In the Dublin constituency, Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews and Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty are still on track to win two of the four seats on 18 counts.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonaldSinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald faces questions over the leadership of the party (Damien Storan/PA)

Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan looks set to take the seat, while Independent Ireland’s Niall Boylan and Labour’s Aodhan O Riordain are vying for the final spot.

The first count in the Midlands-North-West constituency ended late on Monday evening as officials grappled with the arduous process of eliminating 27 candidates vying for five seats.

Independent incumbent MEP Luke “Ming” Flanagan emerged in the lead after topping the poll.

On Tuesday, he was still leading the group after seven overs. Next was Fine Gael first-time candidate and former jockey Nina Carberry, narrowly ahead of Fianna Fail’s Barry Cowen.

If the race remains at its current level, Maria Walsh will also return to Strasbourg as a Fine Gael MEP, finishing fourth.

The fifth and final seat looks set to go to Independent Ireland candidate and former RTE correspondent Ciaran Mullooly, meaning Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew, who was her party’s main hope of retaining her seat in the constituency, is likely to lose her seat.

Candidates predicted the count in Castlebar could take several days before the results were confirmed.