23/02/2011

First Votes Cast On Mayo And Donegal Islands

The first votes in the Irish Republic's 2011 General Election have been cast - on the islands off the coast of Co Mayo and Co Donegal today.

Polling stations on five islands in the Donegal South West constituency have opened to an electorate of over 750.

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin said today that Fine Gael, despite having years to prepare for the election, had failed to put forward a "realistic plan that can restore the confidence we need to get Ireland through the current economic crisis".

"The five-point plan is full of black holes, ill-thought out ideas and poll tested policies that are designed to win votes, and not solve the serious problems we face today."

However, Fine Gael's Director of Elections, Phil Hogan said the party was clear in its objective of wanting a mandate from the Irish people to implement their five Point Plan to 'Get Ireland Working'.

"This campaign has been dominated by the policy content of Fine Gael and our determination to implement our Five-Point Plan. It has been a relentlessly positive agenda and that positive agenda has been warmly received by voters up and down the country. We hope that our hopeful message for the country will see the public back us on the 25th."

Meanwhile, the Labour Party have come out today saying the choice the electorate makes on Friday will "decide the future of our country for the next 20 years or more".

"This is the most important election in generations. It will span whole childhoods. But it must not blight whole childhoods. This must be an election when Ireland goes forward, not back."

Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness, the Stormont Deputy First Minister, has also now joined party colleagues on the canvass trail in Wicklow and Dublin.

Mr McGuinness is canvassing in Wicklow with Sinn Féin candidate John Brady, starting in Arklow Town on Wednesday lunchtime.

Later in the afternoon, from 4pm to 6pm, he was on the canvass for the Dublin South Central constituency with party candidate Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Finally, speaking on the campaign trail this morning, the Green Party Deputy Leader Mary White urged people to punish the parties who caused the housing bubble and economic crash. "As voters make up their minds, it is important we all remember the causes of Ireland's current economic woes and the toxic triangle of developers, banks and reckless politicians who allowed the re-zoning and development of land for houses we didn't need."

(DW)

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