Voters have gone to the polls this morning for the bulk of the voting in the 2020 general election, with polls opening at 7am.
Polls will remain open until 10pm tonight as voters choose 11 TDs who will collectively represent Galway after this election, out of 159 being chosen in total.
The Galway islands voted yesterday to ensure that their ballot boxes would reach the mainland in time for the rest of the counting.
Exit polls will emerge on Saturday night to give a glimpse at what the predicted outcome might be when counting gets underway on Sunday morning.
This is the first general election since 1918 which has taken place on a Saturday, which is expected to give a big bump in attendance from students, particularly relevant in Galway West, and those who might not have been able to get off work on a weekday.
Sinn Féin famously sweeped that election, almost wiping out the representation of the moderate Irish Parliamentary Party.
Modern Sinn Féin have seen an unprecedented surge in the polls in recent weeks, but some late flubs on the murder of Paul Quinn and response of Mary Lou McDonald and Conor Murphy may have done damage.
There are 16 candidates running for 5 seats in Galway West. They are: Conor Burke (Sol-PBP), Catherine Connollly (Ind), Cormac Ó Corcoráin (Aontú), Ollie Crow (FF), Mike Cubbard (Ind), Eamon Ó Cúiv (FF), Mairéad Farrell (SF), Darragh O’Flaherty (Ind), Noel Grealish (Ind), Seán Kyne (FG), Joe Loughnane (Sol-PBP), Niall McNelis (Lab), Hildegarde Naughton (FG), Pauline O’Reilly (GP), Niall Ó Tuathaill (SD).
In Galway East the competition is even hotter, with 12 candidates in the running for just three Dáíl seats.
They are: Seán Canney (Ind), Ciarán Cannon (FG), Donagh Killilea (FF), Deaglán Mac Canna (Renua), Eoin Madden (GP), Louis O’Hara (SF), David O’Reilly (Ind), Anne Rabbitte (FF), Peter Reid (SD), Peter Roche (FG), Marian Spelman (Lab), Martin Ward (Aontú).
And the last constituency Galwegians are voting in is Roscommon-Galway, where 11 candidates are in the running for one of three seats.
The candidates are: Aisling Dolan (FG), Thomas Fallon (Ind), Michael Fitzmaurice (Ind), Paul Hanley (NP), James Hope (Aontú), Claire Kerrane (SF), Orla Leyden (FF), Eugene Murphy (FF),
Despite the fact that Brexit has loomed large over Ireland and its politics for several years now, it was never a big issue on the campaign trail.
Instead housing and the health service have dominated the conversation as Ireland homelessness and hospital overcrowding crises have continued to deteriorate in the run up to the election.
Strong dissatisfaction has been voiced with the performance of the current government, both its inability to resolve these crises and the fact that Ireland’s economic recovery has simply not delivered for many marginalised communities.
However, while Fianná Fáíl would typically pick up votes as FG drops in popularity, many also still recall their mismanagement of the economy in the run up to the crash.
It remains to be seen if this undercurrent of resentment and dissatisfaction will result in substantial change to the makeup of the government.
Of course, any large scale event in Ireland is at the mercy of the weather, and there is a risk that bad conditions moving in ahead of Storm Ciara could affect turnout.
A Status Yellow wind warning is currently in effect across Ireland, with a rainfall warning coming into play at midday.
More seriously, a Status Orange warning will be in force in Galway from 1pm to 6pm this evening, with sustained winds of up to 80km/hr forecast by Met Éireann, with gusts reaching up to 120km/hr.