Gerry Adams: We have changed the political landscape
Sinn Fein has said the political landscape in the Irish Republic has changed utterly after the republican party enjoyed a major election breakthrough with a record three MEPS.
After Martina Anderson topped the poll in Northern Ireland, and the party tripled its representation in the local elections south of the border, the party has clearly shrugged off the arrest of its leader just before the elections.
"This is deep rooted, it's profound, it's a sea change. The landscape here politically has changed," a jubilant Gerry Adams said.
A confident Sinn Fein will now be aiming to be in government on both sides of the border by 2016 – the centenary of the Easter Rising.
With its Labour opponents in meltdown and others in disarray, Sinn Fein could well be a junior partner in the next Irish government after the next general election, expected in two years time.
Mr Adams said: "This is a watershed moment in Irish politics. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has tried to dismiss this as nothing but a protest vote.
"It certainly was not a protest vote.
"We want to be in government. We are in government in the North. We need a mandate and I think Pearse Doherty put it well when he said Sinn Fein is hungry for change but we are not hungry to be in government.
"We are not going to leave our principles outside the door," he said.
Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada was elected in Ireland South last night with 125,309 votes – just 6,000 short of the quota.
It marked a major achievement for the first-time candidate from Ballyvourney in west Cork.
Party leader Mr Adams travelled to Cork to congratulate her personally.
Mr Adams had been questioned by police at the start of May in relation to the murder of Jean McConville.
The Belfast mother-of-10 was abducted, murdered and buried in secret by the IRA in 1972.
In Dublin, Lynn Boylan was a runaway winner, with 83,264 first preferences and almost 24% of the vote.
"It's fantastic, absolutely overwhelming, I can't believe how much support I got," she said.
And Sinn Fein's Matt Carthy was last night well on course to take the second seat in the Midlands North West constituency.