Less than half those eligible to cast ballot in three offshore centres voted yesterday
Less than half of those eligible to vote on the islands off Donegal, Mayo and Galway turned out to cast their ballot on the children’s rights referendum yesterday.
As the Supreme Court upheld a challenge to Government spending on the referendum campaign, of the 2,000-plus registered islanders, less than 1,000 cast their ballots. Their votes will not be counted until Sunday, after the rest of the country has been to the polls.
Islanders off the three counties traditionally vote in advance of the mainland to ensure bad weather does not hamper the return of boxes in time for the count.
Last night, returning officer for Galway West Marian Chambers said she did not anticipate any problems with getting ballot boxes back to the mainland from Inishmore, the largest of the four Aran Islands. The polls there were open until 10pm last night and the boxes were expected to make the crossing at 9am today. Only 72 of more than 660 voters had cast their ballot by teatime yesterday, she said, and only 36 of more than 200 had voted on Inisheer.
Ballot boxes on islands off Donegal were due to return to the mainland last night after polls closed at 7.30pm on Arranmore. Almost 800 people were eligible to vote, including on the smaller islands of Gola, Inishbofin, Inishfree and Tory where polling stations were open for four hours. Only a third of those eligible to cast their vote on Tory had done so by closing time and of 64 on Inishbofin, only three voted.
Some 190 people were eligible to vote on Clare Island, Inishbiggle and Inishturk off the coast of Mayo. Returning officer for Mayo Fintan Murphy said turnout there was low.
By teatime, 41 of a possible 114 votes had been cast on Clare Island, the most populated of the three. Voting closed at 7pm.
Mr Murphy said there had been concerns high tides and high winds might hamper the transport of the box from Inishbiggle back to the mainland. “The sound can be quite dangerous,” he said. But the winds had proved not to be as strong as expected. The ballot boxes are being kept in the courthouse storeroom in Castlebar, he said, before being moved to the TF Royal Theatre in the town for the count.
Counting of ballots will begin at 9am on Sunday at 28 centres around the country. The results will be collated at the central count centre in Dublin Castle, where referendum returning officer Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile will declare the overall result.