Referendum voting is low and slow on west coast islands
Poll on Seanad and court of appeal opens on islands including Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, Inis Oírr, Inishbofin and Inishturk
Presiding officer Páraic Ó Conghaíle, garda Paul Quinn and poll clerk Páraic Donoghue look on as Kathleen Conneely casts her vote on Inis Oírr. Photograph: Eric Luke
“Underwhelming” was how several presiding officers summed up activity on nine west coast islands yesterday as the first polling stations opened for the Seanad and court of appeal referendums.
Four Galway West constituency islands and five offshore communities in Donegal South-West were entitled to cast their votes two days ahead of the rest of the State.
On Inishbofin, Co Galway, development manager Simon Murray was first into the polling station ahead of a 9am ferry to Cleggan and a journey to Dublin. He was part of a seven-strong delegation of Comdháil Oileáín na hÉireann, the Irish Islands Federation, which travelled to the Dáíl to present the islands’ case for continued funding if populations are to be maintained.
By late evening on the smallest of the three Aran islands, Inis Oírr, 67 people had voted from a total electorate of just over 200 .
On neighbouring Inis Meáin, turnout was about 20 per cent by 5.30pm, while in Cill Ronáin on Inis Mór, one of two polling stations on the largest Aran island, 95 of 327 registered voters had been recorded by 9.30pm, according to presiding officer Lena Gill.
In Donegal, Sandra Gallagher, one of two presiding officers on Arranmore island, put turnout at about 21 per cent by close of voting in the Leadhgarbh polling station.
Three Mayo communities of Clare, Inishbiggle and Inishturk vote today, and the seven Cork islands tomorrow.