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Islanders set to cast ballots in Donegal, Galway and Mayo

The 12 islands have a total electorate of over 1,250.

A ballot box being carried away from a polling station in 2016 on Inishbofin.
A ballot box being carried away from a polling station in 2016 on Inishbofin.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

PEOPLE LIVING ON islands off the coasts of Donegal, Galway and Mayo will all go to the polls today, 24 hours before the rest of the country. 

Ballot boxes will be brought by ferry and helicopter to 12 islands with a total electorate of over 2,150. 

In Donegal, 750 people are registered to vote on the islands, while in the Galway West constituency 1,216 people live on the four islands off the coast.

In Mayo, 193 people are registered to vote. 

There had been plans to pass legislation to change the practice and to ensure island voters go to the polls on the same day as the rest of the country. 

In April, cabinet agreed to support a bill from Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív that would change the long-standing practice, introduced to allow for possible transport or weather related delays that could impact ballot boxes making it to the count centres. 

However, the bill didn’t pass through the Oireachtas in time for the election. 

Islanders have been seeking to be allowed vote on the same day, arguing that voting a day earlier puts them at a disadvantage


With stormy weather expected this weekend, there had some concern about how it might impact voting and the delivery of ballot boxes to count centres. 

On Sherkin Island, the potential for bad weather had raised concerns that polling may have to be closed early.

A message sent to members of the island community – with an electorate of 95 according to Department of Housing figures – read: “Sherkin Voting. Saturday 8/2/20.Due to poor weather the polling station may close at any time after 11am.Opening at 7am…please vote early.” understands that the local returning officer is monitoring the situation and liaising with local transport operators and those in the polling station to ensure that people can cast their ballot, even if the polling station must be closed early.

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The decision on when to close the station will be dependent on the weather conditions.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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