Greens the big winners in Republic elections

Green Party candidate Ciaran Cuffe is odds on to top the poll in the Dublin constituency for the European Parliament

THE Green Party was the big winner in the Republic following the local council and European elections.

The party has enjoyed a surge of support at both levels, with a weekend exit poll indicating it was on course to top the European election polls in Dublin.

Former Minister of State Ciaran Cuffe is odds on to top the poll in the Dublin constituency for the European Parliament, while Green candidates Saoirse McHugh in Midlands Northwest and Grace O'Sullivan in Ireland South are also said to be strongly in the mix for seats.

Growth was also reported at council level, where the Green Party is expected to report the best local election result in its history.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan described the exit polls as "extremely encouraging".

"Our MEP candidates Ciaran Cuffe, Saoirse McHugh and Grace O'Sullivan have put their heart and soul into campaigning across the three constituencies over the past few months," he said.

"We knew there was going to be a Green vote and it's everywhere; it's rural Ireland, urban Ireland, younger Ireland, older Ireland.

"It's reflective of a green wave of thinking that's happening all over the world, all across Europe. We were waiting for it to rise here and it has risen today," he told RTÉ.

The story was not so positive for Sinn Féin, with dozens of losses projected across local councils and doubt over whether the party will be able to hold on to its three outgoing MEPs in the Republic, with Dublin candidate Lynn Boylan having a nervous wait.

Among the electoral casualties on Sunday was Belfast-born Sarah Holland who failed to retake her seat on South Dublin County Council. However, the party was buoyed yesterday by the election of former MMA fighter MA fighter Paddy Holohan on South Dublin County Council.

Speaking on Saturday Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald was defiant when asked whether her leadership was at risk.

"It's easy to lead and to be a political activist when things go your way and when the surge is on. Those are great days, but you also have to be ready and fit for purpose when things are more challenging," she said.

"Notwithstanding our disappointment, Sinn Fein remains a very strong organisation."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the resurgence in the Green Party vote was a "very clear" message from the electorate that more must be done to tackle climate change.

"We are acting on climate, but they want us to act faster - we have got that message," he said

"It's a very clear message from the public that they want us to do more on climate action. It will require lots of changes at individual level, community level and also at Government level in terms of policy."

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