Donegal expected to return another No in referendum

Donegal voters are heading to the polls today with predictions that the county will return a third No vote in a referendum in four years.

Donegal voters are heading to the polls today with predictions that the county will return a third No vote in a referendum in four years.

But ‘no’ campaigners were conceding yesterday that securing a No vote nationally in the Fiscal Stability Treaty referendum would be very difficult.

Today’s polling was preceded by a High Court refusal to an application by Donegal Sinn Féin TD, Pearse Doherty, seeking to have the Referendum Commission withdraw some remarks it made on the referendum. The Donegal South West TD said the judgement had vindicated the party’s decision to take the action.

“For several weeks now the Yes campaign have been using commentary from the Referendum Commission as definitive statements of fact. It is now clear that this view is not shared by the High Court. The view of the Commission is not fact but opinion.”

A turnout of less than 50 per cent is expected in today’s referendum following a low turn out for voting on the Donegal islands on Monday. On Arranmore the turnout was just 30 per cent - thought to be the lowest ever on the island for a vote.

Fine Gael Deputy Joe McHugh, who headed up the party’s Yes Campaign in Connacht and Donegal, said a Yes vote was looking the likely outcome nationally. In Donegal he said there has been a more positive reaction on the doorsteps than in previous referena campaigns. “There is a general assumption that Donegal will always vote No, but I would be waiting to have the ballot boxes open this time. What this comes down to is accessible credit with sensible and reasonable interest rates.”

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on foreign affairs and trade, Deputy Padraig MacLochalinn, said he expected both Donegal constituencies to return a No vote. He said the Yes campaign had been playing on the public’s fears of Ireland not being able to access further funding.

“People are worried about getting funding. That is the real concern. We have got a very good response during the campaign but it will be very difficult for the No side to win across the state.”