THE local returning officer for the Children’s Referendum says €36,000 will be saved in Limerick alone by opening the polls at 9am instead of 7am this Saturday.
Pat Meghen, who will oversee the ballot in the Limerick city and Limerick constituencies says the decision to reduce the polling times was made to reduce costs and because the referendum is being held on a Saturday as opposed to a weekday.
“One of the things was to reduce costs and the other was because most people will not be travelling to work on Saturday,” he explained.
Polling stations across Limerick will remain open until 10pm on Saturday and the votes will be counted at the UL Arena from 9am on Sunday.
Pat Meghen says the existing Dail boundaries will apply for the referendum and that voters in parts of West Limerick will still be going to the polls in the North Kerry / Limerick West constituency.
Those votes will be counted in Tralee on Sunday.
While the campaign ahead of the vote has been relatively lacklustre, Mr Meghen says it is difficult to gauge in advance what the turnout will be.
“Holding the vote on a Saturday should be more voter-friendly and we don’t know about students who might be around for the weekend,” he said, adding that he expects the counting of votes to be completed by early afternoon on Sunday.
However, the results of the vote in Limerick will not be announced until they have been submitted to and ratified by the national returning officer at Dublin Castle.
Pat Meghen is advising people that only Irish citizens are entitled to vote in the referendum and he says intending voters should bring photographic identification with them to the polling station.
There are no changes to the location of polling stations in the Limerick constituency but voters who normally vote at St Senan’s NS, Island Road in the city are being advised they should instead cast their vote at St Mary’s Girls NS, Bishop Street.
Mr Meghen is also reassuring those who intend attending a dance at Knockaderry Community Hall on Saturday night that the event will go ahead once polls have closed.
Meanwhile, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, chairperson of the Referendum Commission, is urging all eligible voters in the Limerick and Limerick city constituencies to exercise their democratic right. “It is vitally important for eligible voters to exercise their democratic right and vote in this referendum,” she said.