Saturday 18 November 2017

Turnout tipped to hit as high as 58pc in local and European elections

Nicola Howard meets Fianna Fail's Ciaran Brogan as she and her bridesmaids stopped at the local polling station in Letterkenny to cast their votes before heading to the wedding.
Nicola Howard meets Fianna Fail's Ciaran Brogan as she and her bridesmaids stopped at the local polling station in Letterkenny to cast their votes before heading to the wedding.
Tanaiste, Eamon Gilmore, TD casts his vote in the at Scoil Mhuire in Shankill. Photo: Damien Eagers

Caroline Crawford and Majella O'Sullivan

POLITICAL parties have predicted turnout percentages in the early to highs 50s as the polls in the local and European elections closed tonight at 10pm.

Fianna Fail said the electorate was on course for a 56 or 57pc turnout while Sinn Fein said 58pc – the same as last year. Fine Gael and Labour both predicted turnout in the early 50s.

With less than an hour of voting to go, turnout in the Dublin city area was an average of 36pc.

However there was wide fluctuations across the different electoral areas. In Pembroke in Dublin, there was a 47pc turnout.

Ballymun had a 34pc turnout and Rathmines was lower at 24pc. In Dublin-west, where voters also had a by-election to contend with, Clonsilla had a 30pc turnout by early evening.

The north inner city centre was around 22pc an hour before polls closed.

In Ireland South, turnout at the last local and European elections was just under 62pc and a similar figure is expected this time around.

There was huge variations across the Midlands North West constituency were turnout was expected to finish up around the mid 50s. A 56pc turnout was expected by close of polls in the Longford Westmeath constituency where there was also a by-election.

Voter turnout was close to record lows early on across Cork city and county in the Local and European elections.

But there has been a significant increase in voter turnout in working class parts of Cork.

Togher was reporting voter turnout at close to 29pc in some ballot stations with parts of The Glen, Mayfield and Gurranabraher also reporting voting fast approaching the 30pc mark by 5pm.

Togher, one of Cork's proudest working class areas, had outstripped voter turnout in areas like Wilton, Douglas and Rochestown which traditionally boast amongst the earliest and highest voting rates.

There has also been a steady increase in voting in other parts of Cork city where, by 1pm, turnout was still hovering around a recthe 10pc mark.

Douglas indicated turnout in some ballot stations is around 25pc while in Rochestown it is around 27pc.

In Cork county, voter turnout already steadily increased, though the major surge was expected between 6pm and 8pm when traditionally between 20pc and 30pc of the electorate cast their ballots.

Turnout at polling stations in Limerick picked up this afternoon with one polling station in Co Limerick reporting a turnout of more than 30pc.

It's understood a local wedding from Pallaskenry taking place in Cork today saw many of the guests getting to the polling station ahead of the nuptials.

Officers at the local polling station have reported a a turnout figure of 32pc before the tea time rush got under way.

There has also been a large turnout in Murroe in Co Limerick where 30pc of people have already cast their vote.

Elsewhere, polling stations in Castleconnell report a turnout of 25pc while nearby in Lisagry is also busy at 28pc.

After a quiet morning turnout in Milford is now at about 18pc while Monaleen is reporting a busy turnout at 21pc.

For the first time ever people are deciding who will represent them in the new merged Limerick authority where there are 86 candidates for 40 seats.

There are also 15 candidates chasing four seats in the Ireland South constituency.

Polling has remained brisk throughout the West reaching up to 37pc in parts of Roscommon by late afternoon.

In Cloonfad 37pc of voters had cast their ballots by around 5pm. In Castlerea, the hometown of European hopeful Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, voting turnout was an impressive 27pc by early afternoon, reaching 33pm by 5pm.

Political sources said that while the 'Ming' factor was playing a part in the turnout, voting was significantly high in towns with a lot of local election candidates living locally.

Across the entire county the turnout was also steady reaching between 23pc and 25pc by 3pm.

In Galway city and county turnout reached over 30pc in several areas by 5pm.

In Galway City East 32pc of residents had turned out to vote by late afternoon, significantly higher than the city central ward where 21pc had voted by 5pm.

In Tuam an average of 30pc had voted by 5pm. This was mirrored in the Galway East area with 33pc voting in Ballinsloe and 32pc in Portumna by early evening.

In Connemara voting remained brisk in Clifden with voter turnout topping 35pc at one station. Voting throughout the Gaeltacht area ranged from 15pc to the mid-30s by 5pm.

In Mayo early voting was also higher than expected. It has reached 20pc in Swinford and was averaging 15pc across the county by 12.30pm. By shortly after 5pm it stood at 30pc around the county reaching 33pc in Foxford.

Voting in the southwest has been described as slow but steady since polling stations opened this morning with a turnout of around 13pc recorded so far.

The trend for Kerry was bucked by the Kenmare area where polling stations saw a 25pc turnout.

This has been put down to the number of local candidates running in the area, among them the high-profile Healy-Raes.

Four of the candidates in the new South and West Kerry area are based in Kenmare and its hinterland including Patrick O'Connor Scarteen (FG), Johnny Healy-Rae (Ind), Dan McCarthy (Ind) and Fianna Fail's Norma Moriarty who teaches at a secondary school in the town.

Danny Healy-Rae is running in the Killarney area.

Returning officer for Kerry Padraig Burke said the higher turnout in Kenmare was down to a lot of local interest in the elections.

However, he said by the early indications, the turnout could be as high as 60pc before polling stations closed.

"They're coming out to vote in strength in Kenmare but overall it's been slow but steady all morning," Mr Burke said.

Political parties in the North West say they believe the turnout at 8pm had surpassed 50pc in towns, but was higher in rural areas.

Among those voting in Letterkenny was bride-to-be Nicola Howard, who had timed her journey to her wedding to include a trip to the polling station.

Nicola and her bridesmaids stopped off at Woodlands National School before a more serious appointment with Greg Fitzgerald at the town’s Church of the Irish Martyrs.

“I always vote,” said Nicola, “and today was no different.”

Fianna Fail’s Ciaran Brogan, canvassing at the school, was on hand to pass on prenuptial congratulations.

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