DUBLIN, Ireland, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Irish prime minister Enda Kenny admitted his coalition government will not return to office but said he will not step down despite big losses.
Results on Sunday show Kenny's Fine Gael party remains the largest party in parliament took a beating while Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, smaller parties and independents all made big gains. The Labour Party, Kenny's coalition partner, also took a beating.
"The option of a majority government is gone, the option of a Fine Gael/Labour government is gone ... so I need to know the results of all the parties before I decide what is the best thing to do given my duty and responsibility as taoiseach and head of government," he said.
As of Sunday evening, Fine Gael had 26.1 percent of the vote, with Fianna Fáil at 22.9 percent. A mix of independents garnered 16.1 percent, Sinn Féin at 14.9 percent, and Labour at 7.8 percent.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have long been at odds. Although neither having a majority in the Dail, they previously vowed not to form a coalition. The long-opposing parties first emerged almost a century ago at the close of Ireland's civil war in 1923.
Reports suspect pressure will move the parties to come to somewhat of an agreement in the coming weeks following Friday's election.
Sinn Féin is having the strongest election it's ever had in the Irish Republic and is likely to pick up more than 20 seats. Gerry Adams has once again was elected.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney of Fine Gael also won and Alan Kelly, deputy leader of the Labour Party, narrowly held his seat.
Independent candidate Shane Ross was the first elected to the Dail, BBC reports. Sinn Fein candidate Eoin O Broin became the first from his party to be elected soon after.
Fine Gael's outgoing justice minister Frances Fitzgerald was elected in the same region as O Broin, Dublin Mid-West.
"A lot will depend on the destination of the last seats in many constituencies," Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said, BBC reported Saturday. "It's a bit too early to be definitive, but it's clear we're going to have a good day."
Losing their seats were Fine Gael's former justice minister Alan Shatter and Alex White, the Labour Party's communications minister.
Counting will not end until at least Monday, because Sinn Féin has requested a recount in Wexford.