People voting in the North of Ireland today
05 May 2011
After success in the Irish Republic elections, Sinn Fein seeks confirmation in the North
Voters in the North of Ireland are going to the polls today to elect a new Assembly, local councils, and to decide the outcome of a referendum on the method for electing Westminster MPs.
Some 1,216,402 electors will choose Assembly members to fill the 108-member body at Stormont as well as the 582 council seats across the North’s 26 local councils.
The North of Ireland has 18 six-seat constituencies and both elections will be held using proportional representation.
There will also be a referendum, the first in the UK since the 1975 vote on remaining in what was then the EEC, on a proposal to change the voting system for Westminster.
The Yes lobby wants to abolish the current first-past-the-post system in favour of the alternative vote method which allows electors to express a preference by numerically ranking candidates.
Polls close at 10.00pm and counting will begin tomorrow, with final results expected over the weekend.
Most of the focus throughout the six-week campaign has been on the elections for the Assembly which last March completed its first full term without any suspensions since the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
Party leaders last night warned against voter apathy following a campaign regarded by many as lacklustre.
The DUP and Sinn Féin are again strongly tipped to remain as the lead parties in the rival unionist and nationalist camps and to head the next power-sharing Executive.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams urged voters to turn out. He said the party needed “a very strong local government representation to continue our mandate in our work and local councils”. Sinn Fein entered this election strong of the victory in the Republic of Ireland: less than two months ago the Republican party has secured 14 deputies.
DUP leader and outgoing First Minister Peter Robinson said: “People have the choice of whether they stay silent on this conflict between terrorism and democracy or whether they come and clearly take the side of the democrats and use their vote to show they are not prepared to go back to the days of conflict and violence”.
ANF / BELFAST
ANF NEWS AGENCY