Green Party’s Ciaran Cuffe ‘not celebrating yet’ as he looks set to top poll

The Green Party’s Ciaran Cuffe is expected to top the poll in the Dublin constituency at Ireland’s European election count.

The surge in support for the Green Party is widespread, with party candidates expected to take seats in Ireland’s other two constituencies.

Mr Cuffe, who looks set to take the first Dublin seat, posed briefly for pictures after arriving at Dublin’s count centre in Simmonscourt. But when asked was he celebrating yet, he said he did not want to tempt fate.

“I’ll wait until I see what is going on until I do any cheering,” he said.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, I’m here to have a look at the spoiled votes, if things go well, I’ll be celebrating when the count comes in, but for the moment I am just here to have a look.”

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The RTE/TG4 poll indicates that the councillor will win the seat with 23% of the vote.

The exit poll put Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald on 14%, while Fianna Fail’s Barry Andrews and Independent TD Clare Daly are both on 12%.

Sinn Fein’s Lynn Boylan will struggle to retain her seat as early indications put her on 10%.

Ms Fitzgerald said it was “interesting” that some of her transfer votes went to Mr Andrews.

“It seems that in European elections the transfers go across the whole wide variety of candidates,” she said.

“It does seem as if the left haven’t done well in these elections and maybe people are voting more centrist. I think that would be a reflection of that if that is the case.

“Climate change is very on the agenda and I think … people wanted to give a message about climate change and that’s very clear.”

Addressing questions about the possibility of an early general election, Ms Fitzgerald said there are a lot of factors at play including the “very uncertain” situation in British politics.

“I think there’s a lot of challenges out there, stability is important,” she added.

Former SDLP leader Mark Durkan has conceded he is unlikely to win a seat in the European Parliament.

Mr Durkan ran as a Fine Gael candidate in the Dublin constituency. An RTE exit poll predicted his vote share was just 5%.

Arriving at the count on Sunday evening, he told Press Association he was unlikely to win a seat.

“I’m not in here believing I am going to defy the gravity of the exit poll,” he said.

“But I don’t regret running, I’ve enjoyed the conversations with people across Dublin, I’ve enjoyed it as an experience.

“I’ve enjoyed listening to the arguments and the ideas of other candidates as well, I have huge respect for a range of other candidates.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his party is doing “very well” in the European elections, with its vote up by around 7%.

Speaking in Dublin he said: “It’s up in all three constituencies, we’ll be ahead of Fianna Fail and they actually beat us in a popular vote in the European elections the last time.”

He said he expects to take three seats and will be “on the hunt” for two more.

The first count is expected to be declared in Dublin on Monday.