55% turnout estimated in Donegal South West by-election

Counting is underway this morning in the Donegal South West by-election.

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty looks set to take the seat vacated 18 months by Pat the Cope Gallagher.

The total electorate of 62,229 for the by-election was divided among 136 polling stations. A number of offshore islands voted last Monday as a precaution in case of bad weather. The turnout on the islands is generally reflected in the rest of the constituency and on this occasion, 43 per cent of island voters cast their ballot.

But the turnout yesterday is understood to be much higher. It's believed the turnout will be in the mid 50s.

There was no trend in voting, with a much higher turnout in the West of the constituency than there was in the East. Dunfanaghy had a turnout of just over 60%, while  Lifford had 46%.

The highest turnouts are reported in rural areas, while its reported that their was high turnouts in each of the candidates own areas in Gweedore, Ballyshannon/Bundoran, Falcarragh/Gortahork, KIllybegs and Raphoe.

Meanwhile, bookmakers Paddy Power are paying out on Sinn Fein candidate Pearse Doherty as the winner of the by-election.

If Senator Doherty takes the seat , then the governments slim majority will be reduced to just two.

It is expected the likely winner will be known from unofficial tallies by lunchtime today, with the final official result due in the late afternoon or evening.