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Sinn Fein left licking its wounds after Higgins is re-elected

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President Michael D Higgins with wife Sabina after his re-election

President Michael D Higgins with wife Sabina after his re-election

President Michael D Higgins with wife Sabina after his re-election

Sinn Fein's vote collapsed in the Irish presidential election as Michael D Higgins secured another term in office.

Mr Higgins (77) eased to victory with a landslide margin of more than 55% of the vote.

Derry-born businessman Peter Casey, initially an outside contender whose late poll surge followed critical comments about the Travelling community saw him propelled into second place, got 23% of the vote.

Sinn Fein candidate Liadh Ni Riada gained half of the support achieved by the late Martin McGuinness in 2011.

After receiving 6% of the vote, she said it was important the election was held, rather than allowing Mr Higgins to return to office unchallenged.

"The people of Ireland spoke today and spoke with a resounding yes to put Michael D Higgins back in office," she said, congratulating the president.

Mrs Ni Riada also said she hopes voters in Northern Ireland would soon be able to vote in Irish presidential elections. A referendum on the issue is anticipated next year.

Mr Higgins said his re-election was a vote for hope over fear.

All 40 constituencies around Ireland were declared shortly after 7.30pm on Saturday. Some 1,492,338 votes were cast.

After he was re-elected, Mr Higgins said: "The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad.

"It is the making of hope they wish to share rather than the experience of any exploitation of division or fear."

He said his version of Ireland draws on traditional genius and contemporary creativity.

"The presidency belongs not only to any one person but to the people of Ireland," he said.

"I will be a President for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not.

"I am so proud of this country, I am proud to be a President for all of you and with all of you, and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed Mr Higgins's re-election as an "historic victory".

In his speech, Mr Casey congratulated Mr Higgins.

"It's been amazing, it's been a real experience the past six weeks or so," he said.

"I'd like to congratulate President Higgins and wish Sabina a wonderful seven years.

"I'm sure the sentiments you described so wonderfully there, I'm sure they are shared by everyone here - wishing you all the very, very best."

Gavin Duffy, who gained just 2% of the votes, said: "Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I have regrets? No."

Belfast Telegraph