Sean Gallagher concedes Irish presidency
Friday 28 October 2011
Independent candidate for the Irish presidency and one-time opinion poll-topper Sean Gallagher has conceded defeat to the Labour Party's Michael D Higgins.
Businessman Mr Gallagher, a former member and fund-raiser for the Fianna Fail party, has accepted the veteran politician will be the country's ninth head of state.
Mr Gallagher rang his rival to congratulate him.
"In the last hour I've called Michael D Higgins to congratulate him on his performance and his success in this election," Mr Gallagher said.
"He will have my full support as president and I sincerely thank him for a positive campaign.
"His slogan stated that he would be a president to be proud of and I believe he will be that president."
Mr Higgins looks set to take about 40% of the vote on the first count, to be confirmed at Dublin Castle around 7pm or 8pm.
Mr Gallagher appears on course to finish second but has seen his support collapse from a high of 40% in last weekend's opinion polls to closer to 30% in the vote proper.
Eamon Gilmore, Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) and Labour Party leader, said it had been an honour to nominate 70-year-old Mr Higgins, a former minister, for the job.
"This is a good day for the Labour Party. Our nominee Michael D Higgins looks pretty certain that he will be elected the ninth president of Ireland," Mr Gilmore said.
"I'm really happy for him. I'm really delighted that he succeeded."
The final confirmation of the poll at Dublin Castle is not expected until late tonight or in the early hours or tomorrow if there are any issues at count centres around the country.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness looked set to take third place in the vote and secured a huge boost for his party by topping the poll in the Donegal North-East constituency.
Gerry Adams, his party's president, said the support would bring politics in Northern Ireland and the Republic closer.
"I think what we have done is narrow the gap between politics in the north and the south," Mr Adams said.
Gay Mitchell, candidate for Government party Fine Gael in coalition with Labour, failed to register amid suggestions that the grassroots were not behind him.
His poor showing left him vying with Senator David Norris, a former Trinity professor and Joycean scholar, for the fourth and fifth spots with a record seven candidates in the race.
The also-rans are Mary Davis, who headed the Irish division of Special Olympics, and Dana Rosemary Scallon, former Eurovision winner and Eurosceptic MEP.
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