Steady turnout at polling stations across NW

The SDLP's Mark Durkan pictured with his wife Jacqui before voting at the Foyle Disability Resource Centre, Glen Road. DER1815MC081

The SDLP's Mark Durkan pictured with his wife Jacqui before voting at the Foyle Disability Resource Centre, Glen Road. DER1815MC081

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There has been a steady stream of people flocking to polling stations across the North West to cast their vote in the 2015 Westminster General Election.

At around lunchtime on Thursday, Electoral Office sources suggested that the initial turnout in both the Foyle and East Derry constituencies was believed to be at about 15%.

Sinn Fein's Foyle candidate Gearoid O'hEara and his wife Geraldine pictured as he arrived to vote at the Model Primary School. DER1815MC079

Sinn Fein's Foyle candidate Gearoid O'hEara and his wife Geraldine pictured as he arrived to vote at the Model Primary School. DER1815MC079

However, this figure was expected to rise significantly throughout the day, with a marked spike anticipated from 5.30 p.m. onwards.

Polling stations across Foyle and East Derry opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.

Political leaders across the region were among the first to cast their votes in the Westminster poll.

The SDLP’s Mark Durkan, the sitting MP for Foyle, was accompanied by his wife, Jackie, as he dropped into the Foyle Disability Resource Centre to vote.

Gearóid O hEára, the Sinn Fein candidate in Foyle, was joined by his wife, Geraldine, and party colleagues as he arrived to cast his vote at the Model Primary School.

The North’s Deputy Martin McGuinness also cast his vote at Model PS.

There was a heightened security presence across the city throughout the day.

With the race to get into Downing Street potentially coming down to a handful of seats, the post-election intentions of the main Northern Ireland parties has come in for heightened scrutiny.

In 2010, the DUP secured eight of the 18 seats, Sinn Fein five, the SDLP three, and the Alliance Party and independent Sylvia Hermon had one each.

Counting for the Foyle and East Derry constituencies will take place overnight at the counting centre in the Templemore Sports Complex and, all going according to plan, the first results are expected in the early hours of Friday morning.