Elections 2019: Turnout mixed across country with voting over at 10pm
Long ballot papers causing problems in polling stations
Turnout at the local and European elections and referendum was mixed across the country.
In Dublin, turnout was reportedly slow for most of the day, but there were reports of up to 30pc turnout in Galway, and 28pc in Kerry.
More than 6,500 polling stations around the country opened at 7am and will close shortly at 10pm.
Two of the 13 elected Irish MEPs face an uncertain wait as to when they can take their seats due to the Brexit delay.
Ireland has received two of the 27 places formerly reserved for the UK which are being redistributed among 14 member states.
The UK is participating in the poll, with British MEPs set to attend the inaugural plenary session of the new parliament on July 2.
As a result, those elected in last place in Ireland’s Dublin and South constituencies must wait to see if they can take their seats.
In President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina voted on Friday morning at their local polling station at St Mary’s Hospital in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar voted at around midday at his local polling station in Castleknock. After marking the ballot papers, he joked to reporters: “I really had to think about the transfers.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald voted at St Joseph’s School on the Navan Road in Dublin.
In Cork, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin was accompanied by his wife Mary and their children Micheal A and Aoibhe as they all cast their votes at St Anthony’s Boys National School in Ballinlough.
Residents on remote Atlantic islands off the coasts of Donegal, Galway and Mayo cast their votes a day early on Thursday.
Local council elections are also being held on Friday, as is a referendum on divorce laws - with a Yes set to reduce the lengthy period separated couples have to wait before they can obtain a formal divorce.
Voters in Cork, Waterford and Limerick will also be able to participate in separate plebiscites on government proposals to create directly elected city mayoral positions with executive functions.
Counting in the local elections and divorce referendum will begin on Saturday morning.
The European election count for Ireland’s three constituencies - Dublin, South, and Midlands-North-West - will commence on Sunday morning at centres in Dublin, Cork and Castlebar, Co Mayo.
A Europe-wide embargo means the first results in that poll cannot be declared until 10pm that night.
If previous elections are a guide, counting is likely to continue through into Monday. Counting in the mayoral plebiscites is likely to get under way in the three impacted cities on Monday.
The European and local government elections will be the first electoral test for Ireland’s main parties since the inconclusive general election of 2016.
The result delivered a hung parliament and precipitated months of negotiations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, two parties with a century-old enmity dating back to Ireland’s Civil War.
While Friday’s elections focus on European and council issues, the results will no doubt be interpreted as a public judgment on Fine Gael’s performance in government and how effectively Fianna Fail has managed the delicate balancing act of holding an administration to account while at the same time propping it up.
Other smaller parties in the Oireachtas parliament, such as Sinn Fein, the Green Party and Labour, will hope to be the beneficiaries of any potential public disaffection with “new politics”.