Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says “everyone accepts” that Sinn Féin won the election and are now the largest political party.
Sinn Féin won the biggest number of votes in the election and would have won more seats had it fielded more candidates, she said on RTE’s Six One News.
All five of the top first preference vote winners were candidates from Sinn Féin. Denise Mitchell in Dublin Bay North with 21,344 votes had the highest vote in the country.
She was followed by Donegal’s Pearse Doherty (21,044 votes), Waterford’s David Cullinane (20,569 votes), Seán Crowe (20,077 votes) in Dublin South-West and Johnny Mythen (18,717) in Wexford.
Mary Lou also said she wants the party to be “at the core and preferably leading the next government”.
The Sinn Féin leader wants to start negotiations with the most favourable parties she would like to share government with and has spoken to the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit and would also speak to Independents.
She said it is about delivering a different, better government and not returning “the old two” of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in government again for five more years.
“Conversations need to happen right across the political spectrum,” she told Six One.
She said that at the very end of the day, it is about solving the housing crisis, the pensions issue and ensuring people have breathing room and experience the economic recovery in their pockets.
Ms McDonald said it was wrong of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael “to try to exclude us in the course of this election campaign because we represent a huge proportion of the population”.
She said that it is wrong to say “you can leave us in the margins”.
Leo Varadkar became the first outgoing Taoiseach not to top the poll. He retained his seat on the fifth count.
Fine Gael TDs who lost their seats were Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Tom Neville.
Four Fianna Fáil TDs had lost their seats by 11.30am – Shane Cassells (Meath West), Lisa Chambers (Mayo), Margaret Murphy O’Mahony (Cork South-West) and Kevin O’Keeffe (Cork East).
Former tánaiste Joan Burton was the big Labour casualty of this election, along with her constituency colleague Ruth Coppinger (Solidarity-People Before Profit). Independent TD Shane Ross was another high profile casualty.