Peter Casey on the campaign trail last week
INDEPENDENT presidential election candidate Peter Casey has been backed in huge numbers across rural county Limerick.
The controversial businessman, who was criticised for his views on Traveller culture, received a total of 10,865 votes and 34% of the vote, just behind incumbent president Michael D Higgins, who topped the poll with 15,262 votes, and 48% of the rural vote.
Tallying by the Limerick Leader revealed Mr Casey was polling well in a number of West Limerick areas, notably Rathkeale – which has a significant Traveller population – and Askeaton.
Pieta House founder Joan Freeman came third in the county poll with 1,762 first preference votes (5.8%), with Sean Gallagher just six votes back on 1,756 (5.5%). Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada came a disappointing fifth with 1,438 votes (4.5%), while Gavin Duffy was last, with just 658 first preference votes (2%).
This vote is reflective of the national picture.
In the county, the total turnout was 46.1%.
The county result was announced minutes after the Limerick City count, which saw Michael D Higgins top the poll with 18,904.
Later tonight, the returning officer will declare the national result in Dublin Castle. But this is expected to confirm the Ennis Road-born man has won the 2018 Presidential Election.
Counting will now commence on the referendum to remove the provision of blasphemy from the Constitution.
For more, stay with www.limerickleader.ie