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Irish election - live: Sinn Fein lead polls as Varadkar struggles ahead of election day and Storm Ciara arrival

This is the final day of campaigning before polls open on Saturday 

Ben Kelly
Friday 07 February 2020 15:46
Comments
Irish election: When is Ireland going to the polls and what are the key issues?

Ireland is voting on Saturday 8 February in an unpredictable general election which looks set to shake up the political consensus in the country.

As current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hopes to retain power for his Fine Gael party, he is facing opposition from Fianna Fail, and an unexpected surge in popularity for Sinn Fein - who have overtaken both of the traditional two big parties in recent days.

The big issues of this campaign have been the crises in housing and health, much as Varadkar had hoped to be rewarded for his work on Brexit and the economy. In recent days, media focus has quickly shifted to Sinn Fein's fitness for office, as their popularity shows no signs of waning.

Follow our live blog of all the events in these crucial final days below:

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Good morning.

I'm Ben Kelly and I'm going to be live-blogging the final day of campaigning today in the Irish general election. Polls open tomorrow morning at 7am, so leaders now have their last chance to pitch for votes today.

ben.kelly7 February 2020 08:08
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Where do the polls stand?

The latest poll from Ipsos MRBI for The Irish Times looked as follows:

Sinn Fein: 25%

Fianna Fail: 23%

Fine Gael: 20%

Ind/Other: 20%

Greens: 8%

Labour: 4%

In terms of leader favourability:

Mary Lou McDonald (Sinn Fein): 41%

Micheal Martin (Fianna Fail): 30%

Leo Varadkar (Fine Gael): 30%

ben.kelly7 February 2020 08:10
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Island voting

Citizens who live on the islands off Ireland's west coast in Donegal, Galway and Mayo, will be voting today, and then having their ballots brought back to the mainland to be counted over the weekend.

ben.kelly7 February 2020 08:49
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What is change?

As with countless elections, the big buzzword in Ireland this time around is change. The people want change. But what does change actually mean?

Well, it's almost certainly not Fine Gael, who they've had in power for 9 years now. It could be Fianna Fail, albeit that is a change back to a party they know all too well, and who are still not totally forgiven for the economic crash of a decade ago. Then there is Sinn Fein, who are indeed change, but probably too much of a change for the average, conservative Irish voter to give the reins to on their own.

The chances are that one of the big parties - likely Fianna Fail - will be in charge in the next coalition government. But can their partners in that administration (whoever they may be) bring in some of that desired fresh air?

The Irish want change, but they're more likely to get something that looks a bit same-old.

ben.kelly7 February 2020 09:07
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Storm Ciara is coming 

Storm Ciara is due to land in Ireland tomorrow, as voters go to the polls, which may have an adverse effect on turnout.

Met Eireann has said: “The weather will become extremely disturbed over the weekend and much of next week as the upper jet stream moves in over Ireland and the UK bringing extremely windy conditions possibly stormy at times.”

We'll be keeping an eye on the weather updates alongside the election campaign.

ben.kelly7 February 2020 09:25

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