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'I will listen to SF', says Ryan as he eyes spot in coalition government

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Eamon Ryan celebrates at the count in the RDS

Eamon Ryan celebrates at the count in the RDS

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Eamon Ryan celebrates at the count in the RDS

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was elected on the first count in Dublin Bay South, and has said he is willing to listen to Sinn Fein and other parties about forming a coalition government.

It was a very good day for the party, which was wiped out in 2011 after an ill-starred coalition with Fianna Fail.

The party's performance this time was eclipsed by the historic gains of Sinn Fein, but as counts continued last night it was clear it would significantly increase its number of TDs, giving it the best Dail election in its history.

Party leader Ryan was one of the early TDs declared elected, retaining the seat he first won in 2016.

His deputy leader Catherine Martin also retained the seat in Dublin Rathdown she surprised many by first winning in 2016.

As counting continued she looked set to be joined in the Dail by her husband Francis Duffy, who looked destined to be elected in Dublin South West.

And an expected success for her brother Vincent P Martin in Kildare North made this election a real family affair.

In Dublin Fingal, Joe O'Brien, who won the party's only by-election victory there last November 29, was set to hold that seat.

The Green Party needs a two-thirds majority of its members to endorse participation in any coalition, and some of its newer and younger members may be resistant to the idea.

Engage

But it is clear that most of the other parties will be keen to engage with the Greens and it may be needed for many of the government-making permutations.

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Catherine Martin and family

Catherine Martin and family

Leader Mr Ryan said he was thrilled with his win and hoped the party would get at least nine more seats, giving it an option in helping to form a government.

"It's a relief; we had a really good team. We had a really good campaign. We knocked on every door in three-and-a-half weeks. That takes some doing and we had great help," he said.

"Now my focus is on the rest of the country. Every other candidate in the party is part of a wider team. I am glad we have one seat in the bag and hopefully there will be more."

He confirmed he had been in contact with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald earlier in the day.

"She rang me earlier on. I missed the call and rang her back. She missed my call but I think we have to sit down together first.

"Come what may, I am hoping we can get a team up to double figures and we will do what we can in the national interest in whatever way we can," he added.

Meanwhile, a shouting match erupted at a Kerry count centre when Danny Healy-Rae was confronted by a Green Party candidate after a TV interview.

"Work for the people, stay with the people and to hell with the planet," Mr Healy-Rae had said.