LIVE updates below...

Labor Party veteran Michael D. Higgins will be elected the ninth President of Ireland today.

Higgins will be confirmed as the new man at around 4pm Irish time on Saturday afternoon.

Independent candidates Mary Davis, Dana Rosemary Scallon and David Norris have already been eliminated from the count.

Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell will be next to go as the country awaits confirmation that Higgins is the new President of Ireland.

Barring a major disaster, the final count will see Higgins first, Sean Gallagher second and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness in third position.

Mitchell, Norris, Scallon and Davis will fill the fourth to seventh placings respectively when the curtain comes down on the 2011 Presidential election, the first in 14 years.

“I’m very happy. I’m happy with the vote and the support. I’m very glad that it is so decisive, that the transfers also indicate that it will enable me to be a president for all of the people,” said Higgins.

“I pay tribute to the other candidates for their very long, hard campaign. And they had many good ideas which I will incorporate.

“I have enjoyed the long campaign and I thank the media for their kindness and courtesy.”

Just 56.11 per cent of the eligible population voted in the Presidential election although that figure was 10 points higher than the 1997 poll.

The first count results were Higgins 39.6 per cent; Gallagher 28.5 per cent; McGuinness 13.7 per cent; Mitchell 6.4 per cent; Norris 6.2 per cent; Scallon 2.9 per cent and Davis 2.8 per cent.

The turnout was highest in Dublin North Central (64.01 per cent) and Dublin South (61.93 per cent) and lowest in Donegal South-West (48.42 per cent) and Donegal North-East (48.79 per cent).

Higgins topped the poll in 35 constituencies. Gallagher led in seven and Sinn Féin’s McGuinness in one.

On a double day of celebration for the Labor Party, their candidate Patrick Nulty won the late Brian Lenihan’s West Dublin seat in the Irish parliament.

His victory represented the first by a reigning government party in a by-election since 1982.

16.15: National first count: Higgins 39.6 percent (701,101), Gallagher 28.5 percent (504,964); McGuinness 13.7 percent (243,030); Mitchell 6.4 percent (113,321); Norris 6.2 percent (109,469); Scallon 2.9 percent (51,220); Davis 2.7 percent (48,657).

Quota was 885,882.

Scallon and Davis excluded

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16.00 David Norris, Gay Mitchell, Michael D Higgins and Sean Gallagher have all arrived at Dublin Castle.

15.55 Arriving at Dublin Castle with his wife and children, Michael D Higgins said he is "very pleased" with his performance in the Presidential campaign.

15.22 Galway West result: Higgins 57.6 percent; Gallagher 18.5 percent; McGuinness10.7 percent; Mitchell 4.6 percent; Scallon 3.5 percent; Norris 3.3 percent; Davis 1.8 percent

15.05 Statement from former President Mary Robinson:

"I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Michael D. Higgins on the election results which show that he will be inaugurated as the ninth Uachtarán na hÉireann. "

15.02 Tipperary North result: Gallagher 35.6 percent; Higgins 34.8 percent; McGuinness 11.8 percent; Mitchell 8.2 percent; Scallon 3.7 percent; Norris 3.7 percent; Davis 2.3 percent

15.00  Carlow-Kilkenny result: Higgins 36.7 percent; Gallagher 33.8 percent; McGuinness 12.4 percent; Mitchell 7.7 percent; Norris 4.8 percent, Scallon 2.7 percent; Davis 1.9 percent

15.00 Michael D Higgins continues to top the polls.

 Sean Gallagher has topped the poll in four (Cork North West and Cork South West, Donegal South West, and Roscommon-South Leitrim).

Martin McGuinness in one (Donegal North East).

14.54 Longford-Westmeath result: Higgins 35.5 percent; Gallagher 33.7 percent; McGuinness 13.1 percent; Mitchell 7.5 percent; Norris 4.8 percent; Scallon 3.4 percent; Davis 2.1 percent

14.53 Roscommon-South Leitrim result: Gallagher 36 percent; Higgins 31.8 percent; McGuinness 14.6 percent; Mitchell 6.5 percent; Scallon 4.4 percent; Norris 3.7 percent; Davis 3 percent

14.51 Wicklow result: Higgins 41.6 percent; Gallagher 28.4 percent; McGuinness 11.6 percent; Norris 8 percent; Mitchell 4.8 percent; Davis 3.1 percent; Scallon 2.4 percent

14.46 Kerry South result: Higgins 36.7 percent; Gallagher 30.6 percent; McGuinness 14.9 percent; Mitchell 7.3 percent; Norris 3.9 percent; Scallon 3.9 percent; Davis 2.7 percent

14.44 Kerry North-West Limerick result: Higgins 37.9 percent; Gallagher 29 percent; McGuinness 16.8 percent; Mitchell 6.5 percent; Norris 3.8 percent; Scallon 3.7 percent; Davis 2.2 percent

14.37 Waterford result: Higgins 38.7 percent; Gallagher 31 percent; McGuinness 13.6 percent; Mitchell 5.9 percent; Norris 5.8 percent; Scallon 2.9 percent; Davis 2.2 percent

14.33 Limerick result: Higgins 38.7 percent; Gallagher 33.5 percent; McGuinness 10.6 percent; Mitchell 7.8 percent; Norris 3.7 percent; Scallon 3.4 percent; Davis 2.2 percent

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14.18 Clare result: Higgins 44.3 percent; Gallagher 31.4 percent; McGuinness 10.5 percent; Mitchell 5.4 percent; Norris 3.6 percent; Scallon 2.8 percent; Davis 1.9 percent

14.17 Dublin North West result: Higgins 38.8 percent; Gallagher 20.3 percent; McGuinness 19.9 percent; Norris 10.6 percent; Mitchell 4.4 percent; Davis 3.7 percent; Scallon 2.3 percent

14.16 Cork South Central result: Higgins 45 percent; Gallagher 24.9 percent; McGuinness 14.1 percent; Norris 6.5 percent; Mitchell 4.7 percent; Scallon 2.8 percent; Davis 2 percent

14.14 Cork North Central result: Higgins 37.6 percent; Gallagher 28.1 percent; McGuinness 20 percent; Norris 5.1 percent; Mitchell 4.7 percent; Scallon 2.9 percent; Davis 1.7 percent

14.12 Dublin North Central result: Higgins 46.4 percent; Gallagher 20.1 percent; McGuinness 11.2 percent; Norris 10.5 percent; Mitchell 5.9 percent; Davis 3.5 percent; Scallon 2.5 percent

14.02 Statement from Dana Rosemary Scallon:

"His wife Sabina and his family are a great support to him and I hope that their time is Aras an Uachtaráin will be happy and successful. I'm sure the supporters in Galway are particularly proud of him at this time'.

13.57 Wexford result: Higgins 36.2 percent; Gallagher 33.9 percent; McGuinness 14 percent; Mitchell 6 percent; Norris 4.8 percent; Scallon 2.5 percent; Davis 2.5 percent

13.56 Currently 23 of the 43 constituencies results for the first count have been announced.

Sean Gallagher has topped the poll in three - Cork North West and South West, and Donegal South West.

Martin McGuinness came first in Donegal North East.

Michael D Higgins topping the poll for the rest of the country.

13.44 Meath West result: Higgins 34.4 percent; Gallagher 33.5 percent; McGuinness 14.9 percent; Mitchell 6.1 percent; Norris 5.9 percent; Scallon 2.7 percent; Davis 2.5 percent

13.34 Statement in from Martin McGuinness: "In the course of the past four weeks I have campaigned in every one of Irelands 32 counties. Thousands of people have worked on my campaign and I wish to extend my thanks to each and every one of them. I also want to thank all of those who came out and voted for me yesterday.

"I wish to extend my congratulations to Michael D, his wife Sabina and his family. He will make a fine President and I wish him well for his seven years in the Aras.

"I am delighted with the strong vote I have received. My message of positive leadership, patriotism and commitment clearly was resonating with tens of thousands of ordinary Irish people. I believe that Irish people do want a new type of politics and a new Republic based upon equality and respect."

13.33 Cork South West result: Gallagher 35 percent; Higgins 33.9 percent; McGuinness 13 percent; Mitchell 8.5 percent; Norris 4.3 percent; Scallon 3.2 percent; Davis 2.2 percent

13.32 Limerick City result: Higgins 49.3 percent; Gallagher 22.2 percent; McGuinness 12.1 percent; Norris 6 percent; Mitchell 5.6 percent; Scallon 2.9 percent; Davis 1.9 percent

13.31 Mayo result: Higgins 38.3 percent; Gallagher 25.2 percent; McGuinness 11.9 percent; Davis 9.4 percent; Mitchell 9.2 percent; Scallon 3.2 percent; Norris 2.8 percent

13.27 Meath East result: Higgins 38.1 percent; Gallagher 32.2 percent; McGuinness 11.7 percent; Norris 6.7 percent; Mitchell 6.3 percent; Davis 2.8 percent; Scallon 2.3 percent

13.27 Statment released by Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell: "This afternoon I telephoned Michael D Higgins and congratulated him on his success in becoming the President-elect. Mr Higgins will make an excellent President and his wife, Sabina, will be an excellent first lady. My loyal support is with them and I wish them every blessing for the years ahead."

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13.21 Cork North West result: Gallagher 38.4 percent; Higgins 34.3 percent; McGuinness 11.6 percent; Mitchell 7.6 percent; Norris 3.7 percent; Scallon 3 percent; Davis 1 percent.

13.19 Cork East result: Higgins 36.6 percent; Gallagher 34.4 percent; McGuinness 13.8 percent; Mitchell 6 percent; Norris 4.3 percent; Scallon 3 percent; Davis 2.1 percent

13. 09 Dublin North-East result: Higgins 43.9 percent; Gallagher 21 percent; McGuinness 13.2 percent; Norris 10.3 percent; Mitchell 5.1 percent; Davis 4.4 percent; Scallon 2.2 percent

13.06 Sligo-North Leitrim result: Higgins 36.5 percent; Gallagher 29.3 percent; McGuinness 16.1 percent; Mitchell 7 percent; Norris 4 percent; Scallon 3.8 percent; Davis 3.3 percent

12.56 Galway East result: Higgins 46.2 percent; Gallagher 28.9 percent; McGuinness 10.4 percent; Mitchell 6.2 percent; Scallon 3.6 percent; Norris 2.5 percent; Davis 2.3 percent

12.06: Mary Bonotti, former presidential candiate in 1997 said she thinks Michael D. Higgins will make " a lovely little president". 

"I think it was time for a male president. I felt that for the last six months, we needed to be careful that the whole office did not become feminized," she told RTE.

11.38: Sean Gallagher concedes the election:"In the last hour I’ve called Michael D. Higgins to congratulate him on his performance and his success in this election. He will have my full support as President and I sincerely thank him for a positive campaign. His slogan stated that he would be a President to be proud of and I believe he will be that President".

11.20: Kildare North result: Higgins 45.8 percent; Gallagher 26.9 percent; McGuinness 8.8 percent; Norris 8.1 percent; Mitchell 5.5 percent; Davis 2.8 percent; Scallon 2.1 percent.

READ MORE: Micheal Daniel Higgins, the man who will be Ireland’s new president

11.14: Speaking to RTE from a count center in Co. Louth, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he thought Michael D Higgins would be a "fine president". He added that the Labour's candidates surge in support came as a result of Martin McGuinness' revelations abour Sean Gallagher's ties to Finna Fail during the RTE Frontline debate.

"I think Martin's entry changed the debate," Adams said.

For more stories relating to the Irish presidential race on IrishCentral click here

11.05: Postal ballots reflect the dramatic influence of RTE's the Frontline debate. Postal votes were submitted before the debate took place. Postal result in Cork: Seán Gallagher 211 votes, Michael D Higgins 128 votes.

Fine Gael's Brian Hayes described Gay Mitchell's numbers as "very disappointing" on RTE.

10.46: Dublin South-West result as Micharl D Higgins continues to top the polls: Higgins 40.1 percent; Gallagher 22 percent; McGuinness 16.6 percent; Norris 9.6 percent; Mitchell 6.5 percent; Davis 3.1percent; Scallon 2.1 percent.

10.44: Dublin Mid-West result: Higgins 40.3 percent; Gallagher 22.1 percent; McGuinness 15.9 percent; Norris 10.2percent; Mitchell 6.5percent; Davis 3.1; Scallon 2percent.

The first count in from Dublin Mid-West, (Screen grab from RTE)

10.16: Louth tally – 100% boxes open: Higgins 36%, Gallagher 30%, McGuinness 20%, Norris 5%, Mitchell 4%, Davis 2%, Scallon 2%, tweeted by RTE Election.

10.08: Michael D Higgins looks likely to get around 40 percent of the first preference vote, RTE reports.

9.52: Martin is polling strongly in Monaghan, Donegal, Kerry, Louth & across Cork & Dub constituencies & big increases elsewhere. Thanks, tweets Martin McGuinness' presidential twitter account.

IrishCentral's pick of the best Irish presidential jokes online - slideshow

9.38: 2012 100th anniversary of Labour. @md_higgins in Aras and Andrew Montague in the Mansion House Connolly and Larkin would be pleased tweets Steve Wrenn, Labour Councillor for the people of Finglas,Ballymun,Santry and Glasnevin.

9.35: So proud for @md_higgins and @PatrickNulty. Michael D is not a victory for Labour but for Ireland tweets Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Labour TD (MP) Dublin North Central.

9.28:Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin congratulates Michael D Higgins ''on his very strong performance in the Presidential election which will see him elected the 9th President of Ireland.

''Today is an exceptionally proud day for Michael D, his wife Sabina and their family.

''I have known Michael D Higgins for many years and he will make an excellent President and ambassador for Ireland.''

9.26:You could write the history of Sean Gallagher's entire political career on the back of an envelope tweets Jennifer O'Connell,Columnist with The Sunday Business Post and Irish Independent Weekend magazine

9.25: Joe MagRaollaigh: Presidential returning officer Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile says first national count likely to be completed by 7-8pm tonight, (3-4pm EDT).

One voter appears to have been confused with the PRSTV system (Photo Credit: RTE).

Martin McGuinness at 31 percent in Donegal North East, where all boxes have been opened

9.06: Red C RTE poll says 28% switched first pref in the final week and 58 % switched from Gallagher.

DUBLIN NORTH final tally: Michael D Higgins - 44.7 percent, Sean Gallagher - 25.49 percent, David Norris - 9.93 percent, Martin McGuinness - 10.17percent

Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore congratulats Michael D Higgins on his likely victory on RTE's News at One: “I’m really happy for him… He ran a very positive people and I think people responded to that.”

9.05:With 90 percent of boxes opened in Cork South West, tally puts Higgins at 35 percent; Gallagher at 33 percent; McGuinness at 17 percent; Mitchell at 7 percent; Norris at 5 percent; Scallon at 3 percent; Davis 2 percent

9.02: On RTÉ Radio's News at One One of Seán Gallagher's senior campaign managers, Jack Murray, said it was a very difficult day for Sean Gallagher.

8.45: Tallies from count centres around the country show Higgins to become ninth president of Ireland.

Irish Times report from the election count at the RDS: 

8.17: Joe Mag Raollaigh: Returning Officer thinks first count in the Presidential election will be 6pm (1pm EDT) and it could well be that there is a declaration at that stage, RTE reports. If it looks like they will get a final count by 12.30am or 1am, they will keep going.

8.05: As Higgins leads, David Norris offers congratulations: “I’m quite the certain the next president will be Michael D Higgins and I’d like to send my love and congratulations to Michael D, to Sabina and the rest of the family,” he said.

7.20: READ MORE: Micheal Daniel Higgins, the man who will be Ireland’s new president

7.15: READ MORE: Michael D Higgins has Presidency in the bag according to early tallies

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Higgins is at 43 per cent in Dublin North Central with 33 boxes counted

Dublin North East with 39 boxes counted also puts Higgins in the lead at 35.6 per cent

McGuinness leads on 38 per cent with 12 per cent of the boxes open in Donegal North East

Dublin North West with 38 boxes counted puts Higgins in the lead with 36.9 per cent followed by McGuinness on 23.1 per cent and Gallagher on 19.1 per cent

Higgins and McGuinness are the top two in Cork North Central followed by Gallagher

Higgins leads in Carlow-Kilkenny on 35 per cent with Gallagher on 34 per cent and McGuinness on 13 per cent, Mitchell on seven per cent, Norris on five per cent

Dublin West has Higgins polling around 60 per cent with Gallagher on 10 per cent

In Kildare South, the tallies are: Higgins 40 per cent, Gallagher 32 per cent, McGuinness 11 per cent, Norris 6 per cent, Mitchell 5 per cent, Davis 3 per cent, Scallon 2 per cent

Donegal South West tallies show Gallagher on 32 per cent, Higgins on 29 per cent and McGuinness on 22 per cent

Galway West has Higgins at 57 per cent with Gallagher on 17.5 per cent and McGuinness polling around 11 per cent

7.07: Key indicators from the tallies so far this morning:

Over three million Irish people were eligible to vote in the election which took place on Thursday (October 27th). Vote counting is set to begin on Friday morning in Ireland. Preliminary results will be expected by mid afternoon.

Here is a Saw Doctors song released especially for Michael D Higgin's election bid: