Storm Ciara could impact voting on islands

Storm Ciara could impact voting on islands

Voting on our off-shore islands could be badly hit by storms.

Off the Cork coast, for example, there is a concern about Cape Clear, but also neighbouring islands Sherkin, Heir and Long Island.

As they are furthest away from the mainland, the operators of special ferry services to this batch of islands are planning to set out earlier instead than the more usual sailing times of around 9.30am.

At the moment, all the islands will vote on Saturday as planned but most of them expect to close their polling stations early.

For example, ferry operators received an alert yesterday from the presiding officer on Sherkin Island saying they may close their polling station as early as 11am on Saturday.

Polling staff at the various island polling centres, including Sherkin, are concerned they won’t be able to get their ballot boxes off the island.

The storm was not due to hit the islands until late Saturday and was due to last all of next week.

But over the past day, the storm has shifted and is instead expected to hit the islands full-on by about noon on Saturday and Cape Clear, which has 131 voters, is expected to be the worst hit.

Presiding officers and the ferry companies that serve the island won’t know until lunchtime tomorrow what is likely to happen.

Bere Island has the largest electorate, with 177 voters and Dursey Island has just six.

Sections 85 and 86 of the Electoral Act 1992, as amended, allow for islanders to vote on a different day to the rest of the country.

This is really only due to weather or transport difficulties and it is considered impracticable to take the poll on an island on polling day.

As a result, the Returning Officer may take the poll on any of the five days before the appointed day for polling.

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