Voter turnout in the Cork North Central by-election has been described as ‘low and slow’ in many areas so far today.
Voters are going to the polls today in more than 140 booths across the constituency, and have until 10pm tonight to cast their ballots.
The new TD for the constituency - replacing now MEP Billy Kelleher - should be known by Saturday evening.
Turnout has been described as low, with between five and ten percent turnout in booths in Blackpool at lunchtime. The other three by-election constituencies in Wexford, Dublin Fingal and Dublin Mid West are understood to be following suit.
A number of factors are expected to affect turnout - the main one being that by-elections generally don’t draw high numbers of voters. However, today is also Black Friday, when shoppers could pick up major discounts on Christmas items, while the Late Late Toy Show is also on tonight, and is expected to put a stop to a major late surge in voters casting their ballots.
Counting of votes will take place on Saturday from 9am at Nemo Rangers GAA club, with a new TD expected to be elected by tomorrow evening. They will take their place in Dáil Éireann for the first time when it sits next Tuesday.
All of the candidates would be first time TDs - with half of the twelve running already elected representatives in some capacity. Fine Gael’s Colm Burke is a senator, while Fianna Fáil’s Pádraig O’Sullivan is a county councillor, and Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould, Solidarity's Fiona Ryan, Labour's John Maher, and the Green Party's Oliver Moran are city councillors.
The Cork North Central by-election, in particular, has seen a relatively quiet campaign with little controversy. The only real controversy came late in the day and was unrelated to the candidates in the running.
Reports emerged this week that the sitting TD for Cork North Central Dara Murphy would be resigning his position before the end of this year to take up a new role with the European Commission, leading some by-election candidates to condemn his timing.
Some felt he should have stepped down earlier to let voters in the constituency fill two vacant seats.
The candidates in the running to fill the seat vacated by Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher who was voted into the European Parliament in May of this year are: Colm Burke (Fine Gael), Thomas Gould (Sinn Féin), Oliver Moran (Green Party), Pádraig O’Sullivan (Fianna Fáil), Fiona Ryan (Solidarity), John Maher (Labour), Martin Condon (Independent), James Coughlan (Workers’ Party), Sinéad Halpin (Social Democrats), Charlie Keddy (Independent), Thomas Kiely (Independent), Finian Toomey (Aontú).