Higgins installed as favourite as Gallagher fails to clarify donation saga

FF links with convicted fuel smuggler see Gallagher lose favourite tag

Ahead of the rest —  Terry Heery voting on Inis Mor yesterday as the Galway islands went to the polls.

Ahead of the rest — Terry Heery voting on Inis Mor yesterday as the Galway islands went to the polls.

Michael D Higgins was last night placed firmly back in the race to win the presidential election after a dramatic few days in the four -week campaign.

At time of going to press, bookmakers Paddy Power installed the Galway politician as 2/7 favourite to win the election, just days after he trailed his rival Sean Gallagher by 15 percentage points in the opinion polls. Gallagher, at odds of 9/4, has endured a torrid time since Monday night when it was alleged that he was involved in collecting donations for Fianna Fail from a convicted criminal and fuel smuggler.

Several TV and radio appearances since the allegations were first aired seem to have added to the confusion, thrusting Higgins back in with a very strong chance of being declared President at teatime tomorrow.

However Higgins supporters are still not taking anything for granted and have issued an appeal to all their west of Ireland supporters to rally votes from extended family and friends so that Galway gets its first President.

This morning, Michael D will join his wife Sabina Coyne and their four children as they go to cast their votes at Bushy Park national school at 9.30pm. He spent all day yesterday (Wednesday ) canvassing in the Galway and Mayo areas, visiting both third level colleges in the city and travelling to Mayo to visit his wife’s native county.

The other Galway-based candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon who lives in Claregalway will cast her vote at Carnmore national school some time this morning. It is unclear at this stage what both Galway candidates will do tomorrow morning as they await the tallies from the count centres.

Both will travel to Dublin around midday to attend at Dublin Castle where the results will be announced around 7pm.

The count for the Galway West constituency will take place at Leisureland and is expected to run for up to two days. It will be overseen by returning officer and county registrar Marian Chambers Higgins. The Galway East constituency count will be held in the Community Centre at New Inn where it will be overseen by Derry Buckley.

Returning officer Ms Chambers Higgins said that the presidential count will commence first and will be directed from Dublin where all results will be announced at the end of each count. The 29th Referendum on Judges' Pay will then proceed followed by the 30th Referendum on Oireachtas Committees.

It is expected that the counts will continue until Saturday afternoon before the full results are known.

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