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Early birds cast their vote as country goes to the polls


Karen Sweeney casts her vote in Castleknock.

Karen Sweeney casts her vote in Castleknock.

Karen Sweeney casts her vote in Castleknock.

VOTERS have taken to the polls for the local and European elections, but even with fair weather, turn out was predictably low this morning.

Almost 2,000 candidates are contesting the 949 local authority seats, while 41 hopefuls are in the race for 11 MEP seats spread over three constituencies.

There are also two by-elections, one in Dublin West and the other in Longford Westmeath, which was left vacant after the death of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden.

First to the polls was early-bird FG Senator and MEP candidate, Deirdre Clune, who voted at 7.30am. There was a rush around 10am when both the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste took to their local polling stations.

Enda Kenny cast his vote at 10am in his home town of Castlebar, Co Mayo and Eamon Gilmore voted at the same time in Shankill, Co Dublin.

But the Taoiseach and Tanaiste were pipped at the post by President Michael D Higgins, who voted with his wife Sabina at 9.05am in St Mary’s Hospital in Phoenix’s Park.

By-election candidate and former Olympic athlete, Eamonn Coghlan cast his vote at 10.30am in Dublin 15 and Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes went to the polling station at 10.30am. Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also voted early this morning.

Meanwhile, voters who want to take selfies while casting their ballot have been advised that it is OK if the ballot paper is folded and does not reveal how votes have been cast.

Turn out was expected to increase in the evening as the electorate return home from work.

In Dublin lots of attention will be on the Blackrock ward where Kate Feeney is running alongside Mary Hanafin.

The counting of votes in the local and by-elections will begin tomorrow morning. Counting in the European Parliament election will begin on Sunday.