Low voter turnout not expected to change results

Buffy the dog waiting outside a polling station as Ireland votes in the Presidential election.Siobhan Quill/PA Wire

As the polls closed in yesterday's Irish Presidential election a low voter turnout was not expected to change the almost inevitable outcome.

The race for the Áras coincided with a referendum to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Irish constitution.

Turnout percentages started off very slow, some polling stations were reporting single figure percentages at lunchtime.

In Dublin, estimates suggest the turnout was just over half that of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment in May.

But with incumbent Michael D Higgins considered a sure thing, it was really an election for second place with both Sean Gallagher, who polled around 500,000 votes in the 2011 election and Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada both running high profile campaigns.

Co Derry businessman Peter Casey was shown to have a last minute boost in support although still far off what was needed.

Mr Casey is the only Northern candidate standing in the election.

More than 3.2 million people were eligible to cast their ballots in the election and referendum.

Voters will received two ballot papers at polling stations.

A white ballot paper was given to voters for the Presidential Election, with the six candidates listed in alphabetical order. Voters will be able to list their first and subsequent choices on the ballot paper.

A green ballot paper for the referendum on blasphemy was also handed out to voters.

Mr Higgins is the runaway favourite, expected by some estimations to take around 60 per cent of the vote.

He attended the polling station at St Mary's Hospital in Dublin's Phoenix Park with his wife Sabina.

Businessman and rank outsider Gavin Duffy cast his vote in Co Meath

Mr Gallagher voted in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Mr Casey voted at the polling station at Greencastle National School in Co Donegal.

Sinn Féin candidate Liadh Ní Riada was joined by her husband Nicky when she voted at the national school in Baile Bhuirne, in Cork.

At present, the Constitution states that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a punishable offence under the law, which is likely to be removed from the Irish constitution.

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