25/02/2011

Voting Opens In Irish General Election

The Republic's 2011 General Election has begun with the future of the country resting in the hands of Ireland's 3.2m people voters.

Polls will stay open until 10pm and opened at 7am this morning. There are a total of 165 seats available for the 31st Dáil, with the Ceann Comhairle, Séamus Kirk, being automatically returned.

The next Dáil is expected to be radically different from the last, with many new faces in the Government. At the dissolution of the last Dáil at the beginning of February, Fianna Fáil had 73 TDs, Fine Gael had 51, Labour 20, the Green Party six, Sinn Féin five, and eight independents sat.

In his last address before the nation went to the polls, Fianna Fail Learder Michael Martin said the choice made will decide whether Ireland will "speedily emerge" from the economic crisis.

Fine Gael's Enda Kenny said he was asking people to "turn their anger into action" and vote for the "only plan" that will get Ireland working.
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Meanwhile, Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore, in his eve of poll statement, said: "Although sometimes, it may not feel as though, as individuals, our voices count, but tomorrow, your vote is the only thing that counts. Each individual vote, when combined with thousands of others, will shape the future of our country for decades to come."

Greens leader John Gormley urged people to "vote number one" for their local Green Party candidate saying that Fine Gael and Labour were 'home and dry' and people could make their vote count tomorrow by voting Green.

All Irish and British citizens over the age of 18 who are on the electoral register are entitled to vote, even if they did not receive a polling card. Just over 3.2m people are entitled to vote.

There have been some reports of people not receiving their polling cards, but you do not need a polling card to cast a vote, once you are entitled to do so.

Whether or not you have a polling card, you may be asked to prove your identity at the polling station.

Acceptable forms of identification include a passport or driving licence and an employee or student identity card with a photograph.

See: McGuinness Joins Ireland's Canvass Trail

(DW)

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