Belfast Telegraph

Polling stations close in Northern Ireland

Eleven candidates stood to serve in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Voters went to the polls in Northern Ireland to elect the region’s three MEPs (Rebecca Black/PA)
Voters went to the polls in Northern Ireland to elect the region’s three MEPs (Rebecca Black/PA)

Polling stations have closed after Northern Ireland selected three MEPs.

Eleven candidates stood to serve in the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg amid uncertainty over Brexit and political turmoil at Westminster.

A total of 1,278,951 people were eligible to vote.

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Sitting MEP Diane Dodds, with husband Nigel Dodds, at Bannside Presbyterian Church in Banbridge (Brian Lawless/PA)

Two incumbents, Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson and Diane Dodds of the DUP, sought re-election.

Ulster Unionist veteran MEP Jim Nicholson stood down.

His former seat was hotly contested by party colleague Danny Kennedy, nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance chief Naomi Long.

Traditionally, elections for Europe in Northern Ireland are dominated by the constitutional divide over a united Ireland between unionists and nationalists, although some of the candidates have made opposition to Brexit a central promise.

The DUP and Sinn Fein are favourites to return their candidates.

The third seat will be a battle between Brexit opponents from the Alliance Party and SDLP and the Ulster Unionists, who accept the result of the 2016 referendum but oppose a no-deal withdrawal.

Candidates face a long wait over the weekend to find out if they have been elected.

Results cannot be announced until all EU countries have voted over the next three days.

Voting in some of the other 27 countries will not end until 10pm on Sunday.

Tallying of Northern Ireland’s votes using the proportional representation system will begin in Magherafelt in Co Londonderry at 8am on Monday.

Ms Anderson and Mr Eastwood voted at the Model Primary School in Londonderry.

Mrs Dodds voted at Bannside Presbyterian church hall in Banbridge, Co Down, while Mr Kennedy attended Bessbrook Primary School in Co Armagh, and Mrs Long at St Colmcille’s Parish Centre in east Belfast.

Traditional Unionist Voice leader and candidate Jim Allister voted early at Kells Primary School in Co Antrim, and Green Party leader and candidate Clare Bailey at Newtownbreda Baptist church in south Belfast on Thursday afternoon.

Other candidates included Conservative Amandeep Bhogal, Robert Hill of Ukip, and independents Neil McCann and Jane Morrice.

PA

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