Our peacekeepers among first to cast votes
IRISH peacekeeping troops serving overseas are traditionally among the first to cast their vote in elections here.
Taking advantage of the postal ballot in far-flung Mali earlier this week were members of the eight-strong contingent deployed with an EU military mission to help train the local security forces. So far, the Irish have trained three Malian battalions, comprising 1,800 personnel.
The locals undergo a 10-week training cycle and then serve in a combined arms unit with infantry, cavalry, engineers and bomb disposal skills.
The Defence Forces currently have 410 personnel serving overseas in 16 missions, and while most are from the Army, the group also includes members of the Naval Service and Air Corps.
All military usually vote by postal ballot, whether at home or overseas.
The ballots are delivered by a commercial courier service.
The exceptions are Lebanon and Syria, where a military courier is sent.