President Michael D. Higgins appears set to return to the Aras for another seven-year term. The incumbent captured 58.1 per cent of the vote in the RTE News exit poll released Friday on The Late, Late Show. These numbers are in line with other exit polls from the Irish Independent and Irish Times. If these numbers hold, it would mean that Higgins would be re-elected on the first count. While Higgins had led the pack for the entire campaign, Peter Casey is probably glad he decided to stay in the race after considering his position last weekend after comments he made about Ireland’s travelling community. He scored 20.7 per cent of first preference votes in the poll of 3,474 people on election day Friday, at 138 polling stations across the country. He even beat Sinn Fein candidate Liadh Ni Riada, who scored 7.4 per cent, while independent Senator Joan Freeman at 6.3 per cent. The 2011 second-place candidate, businessman Sean Gallagher, scored 5.5 per cent, putting him in second last place, while fellow businessman Gavin Duffy is at 2.0 per cent. The margin of error was plus or minus three per cent.
The only other Irish president to have have been elected to the Aras twice through the ballot box was Eamon de Valera. The same exit poll showed that the referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy in the constitution will be passed, 71.1 per cent Yes, to 26.3 per cent No.
By: Desmond Devoy Celtic Canada’s National Capital Region correspondent