The count centres at the Aura Centre Letterkenny and at the John Bosco Centre, Donegal Town are expected to have the first declarations around tea time on Saturday but the final results may not be known before midnight.
The main interest in both constituencies is the destination of the third seat with Senator Brian O’Domhnaill, Fianna and Fail and Jimmy Harte of Labour the dark horses likely to upset the applecart as the counts move into their final stages late into Saturday night.
In Donegal SW the spotlight has been on the status of the Tanaiste Mary Coughlan in the south of the county where her vote is likely to be reduced considerably due to the level of anti-government sentiment that has surrounded this election and her failures to reduce the jobless levels during her time at the Cabinet table.
However Senator O’Domhnaill appears to be less susceptible to this trauma and with the possibility of the Creeslough to Cloughaneely area in there with a shout of having their first ever Dail Deputy, the O’Domhnaill camp is quietly confident he can score strongly on a local electorate of seven thousand voters.
Pearse Doherty and Dinny McGinley are virtually assured of seats and much interest will centre on their transfers along with the other remaining candidates.
The real focus of attention in Donegal NE is again on the third seat with Padraig MacLochlainn and Joe McHugh looking certs for the first two seats. The battle here is between Charlie McConalogue and Jimmy Harte for the final seat. McConalogue with a large FF base should be certain of victory: but that cannot be guaranteed since the profile of the FF voter here has changed so dramatically since the last election.
McConalogue is based in Inishowen and he will have to appeal strongly to the Letterkenny Town and Milford area vote where Dr. James McDaid and Niall Blaney have opted out of the race. It is not immediately evident where their huge tranche of votes will fall but Harte’s location in Letterkenny may add considerably to his tally figures.
But the final national opinion poll on Wednesday does not have any good news for the beleaguered Fianna Fail Party. The Red C poll for Paddy Powers shows Fine Gael could be in touching distance of single party government
The party is up one point from the previous Red C poll published in the Sunday Business Post at the weekend to 40%. The poll shows Fine Gael has less of a lead in Dublin, 35%, than nationally.
In descending order, after Fine Gael, was Labour with 18% up one point from the last poll. Fianna Fáil dropped a point to 15% with only 11% in Dublin. Independents stayed the same on 14%. Sinn Féin received 10% having dropped a point but have 13% backing in Dublin. The Green Party remained the lowest and dropped a point to 3% and like Labour had more female support than male. According to the poll, news and media coverage is the most influential factor when people are choosing who to vote for with 78%.
In Donegal NE the bookmakers have McConalogue ahead of Harte in the contest but on the day the deciding factor is strongly balanced on how Letterkenny votes. Our poll put both candidates on a 15% share of the vote. However the undecided factor of 31% remains as the determining factor in the poll.
McConalogue is reported to have picked up momentum in Inishowen after the Tirconaill Tribune poll put him in under a 25% share of the vote in the peninsula with only fourteen days campaigning left.
Padraig MacLochlainn with a 28% share in our opinion poll remains as the clear favourite to take the first seat with Fine Gael’s Joe McHugh predicted to take the second seat comfortably despite a negative reaction from public sector workers that are annoyed about the party policy to cut 30,000 jobs in the public service over the next four years.