Brendan O'Connor: 'Marked with a cross for X-ray'
A & E departments were overwhelmed last Friday after the local and European elections. Several older people collapsed from the exertion of trying to lift the enormous ballot papers while some people became entangled in them and had to call ambulances to be released. Last night some people were still being found buried under large ballot papers, some of which were up to eight feet long in the south of the country.
Meanwhile in Cork, Waterford and Limerick many people gave way under the weight of no less than four ballot papers. While exit polls suggest the Greens did well in this election, Green insiders are saying it was a Pyrrhic victory given the amount of forestry that had to be destroyed in order to print all the ballot papers.
Counting in the many different polls is expected to take weeks. Count centre insiders say it will take at least three days to get the scrunched-up ballot papers that are lodged in boxes out and another day or two to unfold them. "Each unfolding will require at least two people," said one source. "We are thinking of bringing in Bean an Tis from the Gaeltacht and maybe some B&B owners who would have good bed linen-folding skills that they could operate in reverse."
All that is before any counting happens, and with things looking close in the polls and with the number of candidates, it's thought things could go to the 27th or 28th count in one or two of the European constituencies.
"We're hoping it will be over by Christmas," said one insider.
Voters have welcomed the fact that the exit poll suggests a draw between the two main parties in the local elections, on 23pc each, which should put paid to any ideas anyone might have had about a general election. Everyone is agreed that we've had enough democracy for now. We didn't even bother engaging with this campaign and still we are fatigued by it. Indeed, evidence suggests that most people didn't even know what the divorce proposal they were voting on was; they just voted yes anyway because it seemed like the progressive thing to do. Neither did anyone have a clue what most of the candidates stood for or why they should vote for one candidate over another.
"The best thing for everyone concerned is that we leave it at that for now," said one voter insider yesterday. "Let's let this lot head off to Europe and off into the councils and we won't expect to ever hear from any of them again, and let's all agree that we done our democratic duty for now."