IRISH Prime Minister Enda Kenny has conceded a major shift in his country's political landscape after voters turned in their droves for anti-austerity candidates.

Despite the recent massive controversy, Sinn Fein continues its march on the south and is on course to triple its council seats in the republic.

And in what has been dubbed Independents Day, non-party aligned candidates have swept to power across the country taking more than a quarter of the seats so far.

Loading article content

With more than half of the 949 council seats filled, senior government partner Fine Gael and sworn enemies Fianna Fail were locked in a battle to be the biggest party in the State at local authority level.

Despite its own electoral massacre at the last general election for its role in the economic crisis, Fianna Fail are buoyant about a comeback at the polls.

But it is the junior coalition partners Labour who are clearly bearing the brunt of the backlash for years of punishing cutbacks, with candidates losing seats nationwide.

High profile casualties in the Labour drubbing include Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn and Lord Mayor of Cork Catherine Clancy.

Speculation is mounting about the possibility of an internal heave against Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, who is also Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) and foreign affairs minister, in what some commentators have referred to as a War of the Roses.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Mr Kenny admitted voters were venting their anger and impatience.

"It's frustration, it's anger, and it's saying 'show me where the return on my challenge and the sacrifice I have made is'," he said.

The Fine Gael/Labour government will now come under intense pressure to rebrand itself with focus shifting to a Cabinet reshuffle.

Sinn Fein's rise has also fuelled predictions the party could enter a ruling coalition in Dublin after the next general election.