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Breaking: Sinn Fein wins Irish by-election

Sinn Fein victory leaves Irish government with a majority of two.

Sinn Fein have won the Irish by-election in Donegal South West, reducing Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen's majority to just two. It's a crushing defeat for Fianna Fáil which has paid the price for its disastrous management of the economy.

As I pointed out yesterday, this defeat will also make it significantly harder for Cowen's government to pass its austerity budget on 7 December.

As things stand, the opposition has 80 TDs and the government has 82. Cowen's party Fianna Fáil currently has 70 TDs in the Irish Dáil, as well as the support of three more Fianna Fáil members without the whip, six Green TDs and three independents. But two independents, Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae, have already said that the government cannot count on their support for the budget. Should they abstain, the vote could be tied, should they vote against the budget, it will be lost.

Here's the full result:

Sinn Fein 39.7 per cent

Fianna Fáil 21.2 per cent

Fine Gael 18.1 per cent

Labour: 10.1 per cent

Thomas Pringle (Ind): 10.1 per cent