By Liam Cosgrove
County Longford’s latest turnout figures (as at 3pm) are: Kenagh 26%, Granard 20%, Edgeworthstown 23%, Ballinalee 28%, Ballymahon 29%, Longford 23 - 31%, Clontumpher 30%, and Legan 35%. Overall, figures are showing a 30% turnout in rural Longford and a 29% turnout in urban Longford.
It was largely rural based voters who were the first to mark their polling cards across County Longford this morning as General Election 2011 officially got under way.
In Granard at 9am this morning, less than 20 people had walked through the doors of St Mary’s National School, causing one presiding officer to shrug: “It’s fierce quiet here.”
A few miles down the road in neighbouring Edgeworthstown, the Leader bumped into retired Longford County Councillor, James Coyle.
Wearing a green overcoat, Mr Coyle was one of many locals to stop and converse about the fate of where the four seats in the Longford/Westmeath constituency might end up. He was, nonetheless staying very much tight lipped as to the electoral chances of his former political colleague and party member, Peter Kelly.
In Ballinalee, it was a similar state of affairs with just a handful of cars outside its national school. “Five per cent” was the resigned response given by local woman, Marion Lee. In Kenagh, the figure quoted was six per cent, with Clontumpher on the outskirts of Ennybegs village averaging the exact same figure as the Ballinalee polling station.
The one location which was showing a marked difference was in Legan, the political back yard of Fine Gael sitting TD, James Bannon.
Speaking to this newspaper by phone during the course of the morning, Mr Bannon said he had received “several” phone calls from local constituents over reported concerns surrounding the electoral register. Mr Bannon said one man, in his mid 70s, turned up to vote with identification only to be told his name was not on the register.
Meanwhile, back at the polling stations, shortly after 9am 11 per cent of voters had stamped their cards barely two hours after voting booths up and down the country opened.
As the morning continued and the weather stayed fine, a gradual increase in turnout numbers slowly emerged. By 12pm, presiding officers in Clontumpher revealed figures had slowly grown to between 10-13 per cent.
Kenagh, meanwhile were reporting turnout figures of 15 per cent and 21 per cent between its two booths, while in Legan 18.6 per cent had filed through the doors of its local community centre. Ballymahon had also crept to a more modest 14 per cent with Granard just one percentage further back on 13.
If urban areas of the county were langushing behind the more rural pockets of the county earlier on, by lunchtime it was a different story.
Five booths in the Longford urban area ranged from 15 to 23 per cent by 1pm, the clearest indication yet that voters remained very much keen on having their say in terms of shaping the outcome of the 31st Dail.