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Referendum count starts in Northern Ireland's eight regional centres

Published 23/06/2016

Father Peter Burn of Clonard Monastery leaves Springvale Employment and Learning Solutions polling station in West Belfast as voters head to the polls across the UK

The count process in the EU referendum has begun in Northern Ireland.

The verification of ballot papers started in eight regional count centres shortly after polls closed at 10pm.

There will be a count for each of the 18 parliamentary constituencies, with those separate outcomes added together for an overall Northern Ireland result.

The main result is expected to be announced at the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast at around 4am.

There was a low key atmosphere at the centre as the verification got under way, in marked contrast to the bustling and crowded scenes at May's Stormont Assembly election count.

Earlier, First Minister Arlene Foster expressed hope of a high turn-out.

Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party campaigned for a Remain vote in the referendum campaign while the DUP, Traditional Unionist Voice and Ukip were among those advocating a Brexit.

The future of the Irish border was a key issue in the campaign, with claim and counter claim on whether a UK exit would see a return to security and customs checkpoints.

Lee Reynolds from the Northern Ireland Vote Leave campaign said he was feeling "good" but was reluctant to predict the outcome.

He said: "I don't think you should count votes until they are counted."

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said on Twitter: "Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Nigel Farage conceding early that #leave campaign has lost. If so I'll warmly welcome that."

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From Belfast Telegraph