Counting begins in presidential vote

Martin McGuinness went on a whistle-stop tour of the country yesterday in a last minute effort to pick up votes in his bid to become president.

Counting of votes cast in the presidential election, and the two referenda, will begin this morning with the final result expected tomorrow.

The first indications of who will be the ninth president will emerge this evening while the formal declaration will be made later tomorrow.

Polls opened at 7am yesterday morning and closed at 10pm last night. Turnout in Donegal was reported to be steady in the morning and was expected to increase in the early evening. A similar situation was reported from polling stations across the country.

Mr McGuinness began his day yesterday in Bun Beag, Gaoth Dobhair, where he accompanied local Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty to the polling station. He then embarked on a tour of constituencies between Donegal and Dublin, meeting voters along the route.

Relatives of Mr McGuinness from the Illies, outside Buncrana, went to their local polling station alongside Inishowen Sinn Féin TD Padraig MacLochlainn to support the Derry man.

Outgoing president, Mary McAleese, voted with her husband, Dr McAleese, in St Mary’s Hospital in Phoenix Park early yesterday.

Just over 3.1 million people across the 26 Counties are entitled to vote in the presidential election although many commemtators are predicting a low turnout.

A record number of candidates, seven, contested the election, which is likely to make the counting process longer, as counters sort through the second preferences for the candidates with the fewest votes.

Referenda on judges pay and whether the Oireachtas should be allowed to investigate cases of alleged wrongdoing by the state, and a by-election in Dublin South West were also held yesterday alongside the presidential poll.