Polls opened at 7am in the Dublin Bay South constituency for an eagerly awaited byelection to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Fine Gael TD and former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy.
Voters are asked to bring face masks as they will be required inside the building and also to have their own pen or pencil for marking the ballot paper. Anyone with symptoms or who is self-isolating is asked not to go to a polling station.
Polling places will be cleaned every 2½ hours, in accordance with the returning officer’s Covid management plan.
Candidates in the Dublin Bay South byelection engaged in a final frantic round of canvassing yesterday ahead of the opening of polls.
Fine Gael called for its voters to transfer to Fianna Fáil and the Greens in the hope of generating a Government transfer for its candidate James Geoghegan.
But neither Fianna Fáil nor the Greens responded positively to the suggestion of a Government pact and that was not changing on the last day of campaigning.
“We are looking for number one votes and after that it’s a matter for the voter,” said Fianna Fáil director of elections Jim O’Callaghan.
A Green Party spokesman said: "The Green Party does not have a voting pact with any other parties or candidates for the Dublin Bay South byelection. We encourage voters to give their number one vote to Claire Byrne for a progressive voice in Government and to give their subsequent preferences according to their own choice."
After a universal drenching in torrential rain on Tuesday evening, candidates and their teams fanned out across the constituency in better weather yesterday in search of votes, and plastered social media with appeals to their supporters and undecided voters.
The Sinn Féin candidate Lynn Boylan said that "change and housing are what people are talking about on the doorsteps. There's an urgency for real change. I hear it everywhere I go."
But Green candidate Claire Byrne also pledged to work to fix the housing crisis, warning that “renters cannot be left behind”.
Privately sources in most parties acknowledge that the contest is likely to be a two-horse race between Fine Gael's James Geoghegan and Labour's Ivana Bacik, with Ms Bacik the favourite. Turnout, however, will have a strong bearing on the outcome, and with a low turnout a strong possibility, there is a strong unpredictability to the contest.
All parties are putting in place arrangements to encourage their supporters to come out and vote. Polls are open until 10.30pm tonight, and the count begins at 9am tomorrow at the RDS.
The full list of candidates is as follows: Ivana Bacik (Labour), Justin Barrett (National Party), Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin), Claire Byrne (Greens), Dolores Cahill (Independent), Deirdre Conry (Fianna Fáil), Peter Dooley (Independent), Sarah Durcan (Social Democrats), Mannix Flynn (Independent), James Geoghegan (Fine Gael), Jacqui Gilbourne (Renua), John Keigher (Independent), Colm O'Keeffe (Independent), Brigid Purcell (Solidarity-People Before Profit), Mairead Tóibín (Aontú).