Good morning. Welcome along to LouthNow.ie’s #LouthLive election special blog. We’re at The Carnbeg Hotel in Dundalk to bring you the results, tallies, news and reaction as it all happens here after polls closed at 10pm last night in the general election.
After three-and-a-half weeks of campaigning , voters went to the polls across Ireland and last night’s Ipsos/MRBI poll made for interesting reading – putting Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin virtually tied. Although this was expected to be a breakthrough election for the latter, no one quite envisaged just how tight this might be.
Of course, an exit poll is just that. It is not a result. Not one actual vote has been counted yet. Counting here in Louth begins at 9am and we will bring you all the results as they happen.
We’ll have coverage here, news articles on LouthNow.ie, updates on our Twitter and Instagram and audio on those platforms too. So, you won’t get better coverage anywhere else. Our team will make sure you don’t miss a beat. Keep it here and remember to refresh this page for the latest updates.
As of 9.30pm last night, the returning officer in Louth was reporting average turnout in the constituency to be 61%. That is down on 2016 and 2011 before that but we will wait for the final figures to see for sure. The station at the CBS in Drogheda saw a 74% turnout as of 9.30pm (half an hour before polls shut) whereas one station in Dundalk South had a turnout as low as 45%.
Hearing good start for Imelda Munster, slower for Fergus O’Dowd of Fine Gael. It’s 9.25am. Long way to go. We’ve spotted a candidates here for the start to. Independent Topanga Bord and People Before Profit’s Audrey Fergus are here.
Just heard from box tallys in Yellowbatter and St Brigid’s in Drogheda. Imelda Munster very, very strong. Currently 35% at the moment. Polling in the mid 150s in some Drogheda areas with the rest flagging way behind.
21 boxes are counted. Imelda Munster has 30.39% of the vote with 2,046 first preferences. Her neearest challenger is party mate Ruairi O Murchu who has 14.04%. This will be a big day for Sinn Fein. On course to retain their two seats in Louth.
We’ve got figures from Mell National School and Yellowbatter where Imelda Munster is romping home. She received 187 in the latter. Her nearest challenger Ged Nash received 46.
After 20 boxes tallied in Louth here’s how it stands:
O Murchu (14%)
Tight and the two Fine Gael candidates O’Dowd and McGahon aren’t far outside the top five.
Box 1 is just in from Ardee. Ardee’s only candidate Albert Byrne received no votes on his home turf. Munster tallied highest with 60, closely followed by O’Dowd on 57. You could throw a blanket over Dearey, Fitzpatrick McGahon and O’Murchu in Ardee.
Ged Nash struggled there with just eight first preference votes.
Not a lot of positive buzz in the room for Fergus O’Dowd, the most experienced public representative and longest standing TD running among the 15 candidates. He is struggling in some areas of Drogheda where previously be would have expected to, if not win perform much stronger.
40 boxes have been counted, accounting for 20% of the total boxes to be got through.
Imelda Munster’s numbers have increased slightly to 30.73%. She has received 3,956 first preference votes. Ruairi O Murchi remains in second place with 1,550 (12%) but Ged Nash is creeping up. He has 1,372 to leave him at (10.66%) at this stage.
As it stands, 12,873 have been tallied.
More to follow in a moment.
And Fergus O’Dowd has enjoyed a jump between boxes 21 and 40. Tallying at 7.16% after 20 boxes, he is now at 9.51% with 1,224 first preferences after a strong showing in the last 30 minutes or so. It is all to play for.
Extraordinary tally from St John’s National School, Marley’s Lane in Drogheda where Imelda Munster just got 267 first preferences. Fergus O’Dowd received 18 whereas Ged Nash got three. Incredible numbers for Munster. James Byrne of Fianna Fail received 23 there.
It’s 10.50am. 52 boxes have been counted. 16,876 votes have been tallied. Imelda Munster is now at 27.9% with 4708 first preferences. The big mover in the last 30 minutes or so is Peter Fitzpatrick who has 7.60% of the vote. That amounts to 1,283 first preferences.
As of 10:57, Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster has seen her lead reduced with the number of first preferences currently sitting at 5248 (27%) she is followed by Ruairi O Murchu with 3505 votes (18%). Sinn Féin are confident in getting two seats. Peter Fitzpatrick has 1529 votes (7.85%) and is doing well. Declan Breathnach is just short of the fifth seat.
80 boxes have been counted here at 11:30 am with Imelda Munster having 6,891 (26.57%) of first preferences. Her party mate Ruairi O Murchu is in second place with 4,509 (17.16%). Fergus O Dowd has risen to third with 2,299. They are followed by Declan Breathnach (2,110) and Peter Fitzpatrick (2,100). Ged Nash has slipped to sixth. Not looking great for Fine Gael candidate John McGahon, who is polling with 6.57% .
In St.Oliver’s National School Carlingford, Ruari O Murchu tops the poll with 112 votes, John McGahon has 46 and Mark Dearey has a close 45.
Over in Doolargy National School, Ruairi O Murchu again, tops the poll with 100 votes, John McGahon has picked up 50, and Peter Fitzpatrick has 35.
O Murchu has also topped in Kilcurry, receiving 141 votes in one box! We can see Ruairi is leading in North Louth with a decent showing. This is to be expected as North Louth is really Sinn Féin territory.
We are at the halfway point of the count, 34,623 votes have been tallied. Turnout is currently at 30.76%. Imelda Munster currently has 8,562 (24.73%). Ruairi O Murchu (18.62%), Fergus O’Dowd (8.65%), Peter Fitzpatrick (8.34%) and Declan Breathnach (8.07%), make up the top five.
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Absolutely extraordinary votes in one particular box from St John’s NS in. Topanga Bird (21), David Bradley (22), Albert Byrne (10) and Audrey Fergus (24) all scoring well. topped the poll with 206. 93% turnout there.
Bird, Bradley and Byrne are all Independents with Fergus representing People Before Profit. The former three are all tallying below 210 after the first 105 boxes so interesting to see them fair reasonably well in that particular box.
Counting has resumed here. Lots of work being done. Getting busier and busier with each passing minute.
Did you know – there are 209 polling stations in Louth. That seems like a lot, right? Because a polling station isn’t a building – it’s a room. Some bigger locations have multiple rooms with a ballot box in each room. Each room is a polling station in itself.
The 209 polling stations are spread across 71 locations around the county. These are mostly schools but also community centres, village halls and places like Town Hall inand the Civic Centre on Fair Street, .
There were 67,529 votes cast inin 2016, a turnout of 64.5%, down from 69.6% in 2011.
With 15 candidates running in 2020, that is fewer than the 16 last time and the 17 in 2011. Although, technically, it was only 16 in 2011 too as Seamus Kirk was automatically returned as Ceann Comhairle.
100% of boxes have now been opened here at The Carnbeg Hotel. They will all be tallied soon enough. We’re well over 120 now. Updates here so stay tuned.
Caught one of the Donacarney counts earlier. Quite spread vote there with Imelda Munster (77) winning from Declan Breathnach (63) and Fergus O’Dowd (61). Ged Nash of Labour had 45 there. Green Party’s Mark Dearey had 30.
136 boxes now counted. 44,799 votes have been tallied. Mark Dearey of the Green Party making moves, as you can see below.
- Imelda Munster 11,238
- Ruairi O Murchu ,7377
- Fergus O’Dowd 4,477
- Ged Nash 3,855
- Mark Dearey 3,427
- Declan Breathnach 3,383
- Peter Fitzpatrick 3,378
As it stands, Sinn Féin enjoying the most success in Drogheda Urban. Fianna Fail are most popular in Ardee as of 1pm. Fine Gael also doing the best in Ardee, or all the areas. Labour have showed strong in Drogheda and in east Meath but not elsewhere.
She isn’t just the talk of the town, but the talk of the county, Imelda Munster – who is well on track to top the polls in 2020 – will be at the count centre at 2pm. We’re reliably told. She’ll be popular among the media.
Transfers are going to be very interesting in Louth. Mark Dearey is on the move and you would think he’ll be a popular man in second and third preferences – will Ged Nash do well there to? He’ll need to. When it comes to picking up transfers, Peter Fitzpatrick may fare well too.
164 boxes counted, and 54,636 votes have been tallied. Imelda Munster now stands at 13,806 (25.27%) with Ruairi O Murchu still comfortably in second place with 9,110 (16.67%). Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd has 5,334 first preference votes and sits in third. The headline news is Fianna Fail’s Declan Breathnach has just 4,061 votes (7.43%). Breathnach was fancied by many to enjoy a comfortable return to the Dáil Éireann.
We have the results of a ballot box from The Redeemer’s boys school. Here are the numbers: Ruairi O Murchu has 240 votes and is way out in the front. Peter Fitzpatrick follows second with 60 votes and Declan Breathnach is in third place with 14 votes. It is clear that Sinn Féin are the favored party in this constituency.
As of 1:46pm we have now counted 180 boxes. That means there are just 29 to go. A total of 59,716 votes have been tallied. As you can see below, Sinn Féin duo Imelda Munster and Ruairi O Murchu remain in healthy leads at the top of the polls.
Fergus O’Dowd has received 5,729 votes to date. He is followed by Ged Nash (5,083), Peter Fitzpatrick (4,650) and Declan Breathnach (4,544).
Four candidates are polling at under 1%. These are Topanga Bird, David Bradley, Albert Byrne and Cathal O Murchu.
We’ve just been speaking to Audrey Fergus of People Before Profit. She says she expects another election before the summer and she told us she will run again. Audrey said it was a challenge to run a campaign on a budget of €1,000 and with no posters to distribute.
Final tallies are in. All 210 boxes are counted. 70,050 votes tallied. The final turn out is 62.23%. Imelda Munster has topped the polls in Louth with 16,538 (23.61%).
Imelda Munster and Ruairi O Murchu are over the likely quota after all 210 boxes have been tallied. Celebrations here in the count centre as both candidates are applauded as they celebrate their election success.
Our editor Barry Landy caught up with Imelda Munster moments after she had arrived at the Carnbeg Hotel in Dundalk.
Cheers fill the building as Gerry Adams arrives at the polling centre to congratulate Imelda Munster and his replacement on the ticket; Ruairi O Murchu here in the Carnbeg in Dundalk.
Just in case anyone has spotted Green Party candidate Mark Dearey at the count centre and are wondering why he has a plaster over his right eye, he had an accident with a car door during a particularly stormy trip outside on Saturday night. Well, that’s what Storm Ciara can do to you!
To give you an indication of the Sinn Féin rise in popularity, even here in Louth where they held two seats: in 2016, Gerry Adams and Imelda Munster received 19,490 first preference votes between them. Today, Munster and O Murchu have garnered 28,999 first preference votes between them. That is without the pulling power of the former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.
We are still awaiting final figures for the first count. Some reports suggest we could be waiting until around about 6pm for official word from Returning Officer Mairead Ahern. We will bring you the latest as we get it on LouthNow.ie
Barry has just been speaking to Fianna Fail candidate, James Byrne from Drogheda. He says he is disappointed, Not only with his own tally but also with the low Fianna Fail vote. He said he expected Sinn Fein to poll well in Drogheda but the scale of their tally surprised him
By our reckoning, only Gerry Adams and Fergus O’Dowd in 2011 have ever received more first preference votes than both Munster and O Murchu have registered today. In all history. That’s forever. Wow.
Barry has spoken to John Mc Gahon who has fallen short in his bid for election.
Absolutely jammed in here, the count centre, now. The official call on the first count can’t be far away. We’re expecting it imminently. Candidates are back in the room after sorting through disputed votes.
We have the first candidates elected in the Louth constituency just before 7:00pm. Sinn Féin duo Imelda Munster and Ruairi O Murchu ensure that the party retains their two seats in the county. Munster, from Drogheda topped the polls with more than 17,000 while O Murchu followed in second place with more than 12,000. Returning Officer Mairead Ahern’s reading of the exact numbers was interrupted by an erupting crowd. Exact numbers will follow as we get them.
Their success is representative of Sinn Féin’s positive election throughout the country. It became apparent as early as 10am that the Munster – O Murchu ticket would romp home in Louth.
Speaking to LouthNow.ie earlier, Munster said “I’m very proud of the endorsement I have received today. I thought it would be a battle to get the two seats.”
Her first preference tally of 16,538 is an all-time record in the county. Her feat is all the more remarkable considering Munster was only elected in 2016, as the first female TD to represent Louth.
We have the official tallies. Munster tops the polls and is elected with 17,203 votes, while first-time candidate O Murchu is also elected with 12,491.
Further down, Fergus O’Dowd is third with 6,380. Peter Fitzpatrick and Ged Nash compete the current top five in the race for a seat. Nash’s lead over Fianna Fail’s Declan Breathnach is just 43 votes.
The Green Party’s Mark Dearey cannot be discounted. He is currently on 5,418 after the first count.
We understand it is unlikely another candidate will be elected this evening. It looks like the remaining hopefuls will have to wait until Monday morning to discover their fate.
You could not move in the count centre in Dundalk an hour ago. Now, bar the media and a small number of observers, there’s very few around. If you’ve seen the video down this blog, you will have seen and heard the strength of support for Sinn Féin. Their supporters turned out to vote for them and then came again to celebrate a seismic win.
John McGahon spoke to us earlier and now he’s taken to social media.
A lot of people from across the political spectrum surprised by the poor showing of Declan Breathnach today. He is 43 votes off the fifth seat after count one. Now, that’s not much and James Byrne’s transfers will surely benefit Breathnach, you would think. But he was presumed comfortable and Fianna Fáil are in danger of not making the cut here. We’ll wait and see.
What. A. Photo.
Here’s a few lines from Peter Fitzpatrick TD, who spoke to us upon arriving at the count centre.
“If you told me yesterday that I was going to get over 6,000 votes I would have been delighted. I came into this election hoping to win my seat back. There’s no point getting yourself involved in a race if you don’t think you’re going to win it. I came in here with my eyes open.
“I knew from day one I was fighting for the last seat I predicted that SF would take the two seats. I kind of knew it would be between Deary, Nash and myself.”
We’ve spoken to Ged Nash and Declan Breathnach in the last few minutes here. Nash is positive looking ahead, Breathnach not defeated but disappointed with his showing. Both were scathing about Sinn Féin. We’ll have those stories soon.
BIG NEWS! The second count is in. Ged Nash is the big winner here getting 1,065 from Imelda Munster’ surplus to bring him to 6,889. He has leapfrogged Fergus O’Dowd into third now. No one has reached the quota. Ruairi O Murchu transfers now being distributed.
Earlier on this evening, Barry spoke to Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach who couldn’t hide his disappointment over how his day had gone. He also had a message for the successful Sinn Féin candidates.
Shortly after speaking to Breathnach, Barry sat down with Labour’s Ged Nash for a wide ranging discussion on where he lies in the race for a seat, the youth vote, where Labour go from here and his own personal ambitions.
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It’s 11.15pm. We’re still here at the Louth constituency count in Dundalk. We’ve been here since 8.30am bringing you the very best general election coverage across online, social and audio. We just want to say thank you to the huge numbers of people who have followed this #LouthLive blog today, to everyone who is new to LouthNow.ie and had a browse while you were here and to all our new followers on social media.
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The crowd here has trickled down to a very small number of hardcore supporters. It’s mostly count staff, hotel staff and media now. The transfers of Ruairi O Murchu’s 713 surplus seems to be taking quite a long time. We had expected this might be wrapped up by now. But still we wait.
Hang on, more transfers are imminent. Stay with us.
transfers are redistributed. Nothing has changed in terms of the order. benefitted most handsomely from that with 188 transfers. He remains fifth, in that last seat. Mark Dearey is close behind. He received 150 transfers from his fellow north Louth candidate.
Audrey Fergus of People Before Profit, gained 161 from O Murchu but she is not in contention.
That is all from us tonight everyone. Thanks so much for being with us throughout the day on #LouthLive on LouthNow.ie.
We will be back at 9am tomorrow as we pick up and go again. From me Barry Landy and all the team here, bye for now.