Published Sunday, 25 May 2014
Sinn Féin representatives are confident of big gains in the southern elections. (© PA)
The majority of the seats were filled just before midnight on Sunday - 800 out of 949 - with Sinn Féin receiving 141 seats.
Fianna Fáil led the way with 222 seats while Fine Gael returned 188 councillors. Labour managed 45 seats while Others achieved 204.
Sinn Féin's rise has also fuelled predictions the party could enter a ruling coalition in Dublin after the next general election.
Mary Lou McDonald, the party's Dublin-born deputy leader who has been touted as a potential successor to Gerry Adams, said it would consider going into government.
"I don't think it would be simply a numbers game," she said.
"It would be a matter of whether or not you could produce a programme for government that really changed things and delivered real results for people's lives. That would be the litmus test."
The election has been dubbed "Independents Day" with non-party aligned candidates taking almost a quarter of seats.
While Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been locked in a battle to be the biggest party in the state at local authority level, with the latter looking to be the clear winner on Sunday night.
Despite its own electoral massacre at the last general election for its role in the economic crisis, Fianna Fáil were buoyant about a comeback at the polls.
But it was the junior coalition partners Labour who clearly were bearing the brunt of the backlash for years of punishing cutbacks, with candidates losing seats nationwide.
Counting in the European elections began at around 9pm in the Republic, with ballot boxes opening in the King's Hall in Belfast on Monday morning.
© UTV News