Surge in support for Green Party, according to exit poll

Unprecedented backing puts Greens in line to secure seats in all European constituencies

The Green Party are set to be the big winners in the local and European elections, according to a Red C exit poll for RTÉ released this evening after the polls closed.

The poll suggests that the Greens will top the poll in the Dublin constituency in the European Parliament elections and are in with a strong chance of winning seats in the other two constituencies.

The Green candidate in the South constituency, Grace O’Sullivan, is on 12 per cent in the poll which should be enough to secure her a seat given the party’s tendency to attract transfers, while Saoirse McHugh attracts a similar figure in Midlands North West, which also puts her in a strong position to win a seat, the poll suggests.

In Dublin, Green candidate Ciarán Cuffe will win 23 per cent of the vote, the poll predicts, comfortably electing him on the first count. The margin of error in the European elections poll is 4 per cent.

Asked who they voted for in the local elections, 9 per cent of respondents said Green candidates, a result which if replicated in the counts would mean Green councillors elected countrywide.

The news for the others parties from the poll is mixed. Fine Gael will win one seat in Dublin with Frances Fitzgerald, one in Midlands North West with Mairéad McGuinness. And there is a strong possibility of a second with Maria Walsh, the party will win one in Ireland South (Seán Kelly), but Deirdre Clune’s second seat there is under severe threat.

Fine Gael is tied with Fianna Fáil at 23 per cent each in the local elections – a result which would suggest that both parties could lose local authority seats.

Fianna Fáil will hope that its previous tendency to improve on exit poll performance when the votes are actually counted emerges again in the coming days, but it is clear from the poll that it faces a struggle to win European Parliament seats in Dublin with Barry Andrews or in Midlands North West – worrying indicators for the party which had hoped for seats in both constituencies.

Sinn Féin will have a difficult weekend, the poll suggests, and is facing a struggle to keep Lynn Boylan’s seat in Dublin – the loss of which would be a significant blow of Mary Lou McDonald, who first won the seat for the party 15 years ago.

The poll also suggests that the party’s vote in the local elections has slumped, reversing a trend of constant increases since the 1990s.

Labour’s slim hopes of a Dublin seat for Alex White seem hopeless, while the local elections result of 6 per cent, according to the poll, suggest that the party still has a mountain to climb in terms of rebuilding its support.

Independents and small party candidates seem to be suffering from the Green surge. While Clare Daly is in a strong position in Dublin on 12 per cent, Luke Ming Flanagan is in trouble in Midlands North West, according to these numbers though he could overtake the Green, McHugh. Mick Wallace will be in the shake-up in Ireland South, but has a lot of ground to make up. Peter Casey, who campaigned largely on opposition to some types of immigration, did not get off the ground, according to the poll which puts him at 7 per cent.