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Woman casts her vote in Irish General Election Woman casts her vote in Irish General Election  (AFP or licensors)

Ireland votes in General Election

Ireland is going to the polls Saturday in a General Election which sees three parties vying to form the next government.

For decades Ireland’s two main political parties Fine Fail and Fine Gael have been the dominant forces in Irish politics.

Three horse race

But as voters go to the ballot box on Saturday this election is being viewed as a three horse race.

The Sinn Fein party which has strong support in Northern Ireland, hasn’t made real headway in the Republic until now, due to its links with the Irish Republican Paramilitary group the Provisional IRA.

This time round however, its proposals for tackling the country’s housing crisis and an ailing healthcare system has piqued the interest of voters.

But the leader of Fianna Fail, Michael Martin has said Sinn Fein is not fit to govern because “they have not cleansed themselves of their bloodied past,” which saw thousands killed during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

The current Prime Minister or Taoiseach is Leo Varadkar who took office after becoming Fine Gael leader in 2017. He was the familiar face to many during the Brexit negotiations but polls suggest his party is trailing behind.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s vote Varadkar was in an optimistic mood saying he expected Fine Gael to be the largest party on Sunday.

The changing face of Ireland

Ireland has seen significant changes over the last 5 years. In 2015 the country introduced same sex marriage and in 2018 it voted to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution, which prohibited abortion in all but exceptional circumstances.

“Put people first”

As the country prepares to choose who enters parliament, the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin is inviting politicians to “put people first” on key issues including housing, healthcare, Brexit and a consistent culture of life.

Both he and the Auxillary Bishop of Armagh, Michael Router also “encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote”.

08 February 2020, 12:28