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Fine Gael and Green Party have strong showing in Ireland

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Fine Gael and Green Party have strong showing in Ireland
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After two days of voting in Ireland, exit polls showed the centre-right ruling party Fine Gael (which will join the European People's Party) coming out on top for the European elections, according to Europe Elects based on national Irish exit polls.

In 2014, the liberal Fianna Fáil party (which would join ALDE at the EU level) had 425 more votes than in 2014. This year Fine Gael will take the plurality, according to EU Elects.

The Green Party also had a strong showing, overtaking the Labour party to become the fourth largest party in Ireland.

Ireland's Green party received just 4.9% of the vote in 2014 but is expected to get 14.8% this year Europe Elects projects based on a Red C exit poll. It would be a 10 point increase for the party which is set to win as many as three of the EU seats, according to the RTE-TG4 RED C exit poll.

This is the highest result recorded for the Green party since its creation in 1981. The Labour party, meanwhile, only received 3.5% of the vote, according to exit polling.

This biggest surprise was the Green Party's showing in Dublin. Irish national media RTE and TG4's exit poll showed Green candidate Ciarán Cuffe is likely to top the Dublin constituency with 23 per cent of the vote, electing him on the first count.

The Green Party result is expected to remain consistent despite the poll's margin of error according to national broadcaster RTE.

"There is a green wave of public consciousness in Ireland. It's been happening throughout Europe and it landed, I think, in Ireland and it is those climate strikes, it's those young people standing up and saying we have to protect our future," Green party leader Eamon Ryan told RTE.

The other seats will be shared amongst Fine Gael and opposition parties Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein. Counting is likely to last for several days.

Fine Gael (EPP) looked to come out in the lead in the other two constituencies: South and Midlands North West, according to Irish media reports. Fianna Fáil (ALDE) saw a 6 point drop from 22.3% in 2014 to 15.4% in national exit polling.

Ireland also voted on two divorce referendums and appeared to support easing restrictions on divorce, according to a Red C exit poll.

Ireland has roughly 3,200,000 eligible voters who elect 11 seats in the EU Parliament, a number that will increase to 13 post-Brexit.