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Irish polls: Sinn Féin surges as half of seats filled

Dublin, Feb 10 (IANS) More than half of the seats at stake in the Irish general election have been filled, following what has been a historic result for Sinn Féin.

The outcome was described as “something of a revolution in the ballot box” by the party’s leader Mary Lou McDonald, BBC reported.

With all first preferences counted, the left-wing republican party has taken 24.5 per cent of the vote, compared to 22 per cent for Fianna Fáil and 21 per cent for Fine Gael.

No one party will win enough seats for an outright majority.

About 100 of the 160 seats have been declared, but negotiations to establish a government could be prolonged.

Before the election, both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had ruled out forging a coalition with left-wing republican party Sinn Féin, citing its tax policies and IRA past as deterrents.

On Sunday evening, Taoiseach (Irish PM) and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar conceded it would be “challenging” to form a government.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin did not rule out working with Sinn Féin, but said “significant incompatibilities” still existed.

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said she was exploring options to see if it would be possible to form a government without either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

–IANS

tsb/bg

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