Sole voter hits a high note

Tue, May 29, 2012, 01:00

DONEGAL ISLAND:HUGH O’DONNELL may have been the only presiding officer who had music played to him yesterday when islanders off Donegal voted in the fiscal treaty four days before the rest of Ireland.

A saxophone was played by Barry Edgar Pilcher, the only person to cast a vote on Inishfree island. Six people have a vote but they live on the mainland.

A seventh thought he had a vote. German Hans Schleweck (63), who lives on the mainland but has a home on Inishfree, was able to vote in the local elections but was ruled out of the referendum ballot.

The polling booth is always set up in the cottage of Mr Pilcher (69), who has been the lone island resident for most of the past 20 years.

The polling box was transferred by ferry in the care of Garda Sgt John O’Toole.

Information posters for voters were put on a table in Mr Pilcher’s livingroom before he placed the only vote in the box. He then entertained Mr O’Donnell, Garda Sgt O’Toole and the disappointed Mr Schleweck on the saxophone.

The final turnout on Arranmore Island was 43 voters from an electorate of 173. Presiding officer Nora Gallagher said: “It’s the lowest turnout ever.”

The Donegal islands traditionally vote ahead of the mainland in case inclement weather prevents the boxes getting to the counting stations in time.