Trouble as voting takes place in historic Euro election

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Rioting took place in Derry on Thursday night as polls closed in the election to the European Parliament and as British Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be preparing to announce her resignation over the collapse of support for her party.

Petrol bombs were thrown at the PSNI police in Glengalliagh Park after they attended a bomb alert on Moss Road. The PSNI said the disorder had been “orchestrated”.

The riot, a repeat of one that took place during local council elections earlier this month, will increase pressure on multi-party talks taking place in Belfast. Negotiations involving the Dublin and London governments have so far failed to address the ongoing violence in Derry.

The trouble came as voting was winding down in a closely-fought election to elect three MEPs in the North and ahead of elections in the 26 Counties later today.

There is a chance that the Euro election could be the first in the North in which the number of elected unionists falls to parity with nationalists or even below, a result which could lead to renewed calls for a border poll on Irish reunification.

MAY HEADS FOR THE EXIT

In Britain, the ruling Conservative Party looks set for an unprecedented defeat, and British Prime Minister Theresa May is widely reported to be expected to announce a timeframe for her resignation later today [Friday].

It is reported that May will announce that she will quit as leader of the Conservative Party early in June, staying on until after a state visit by US President Donald Trump, and remaining as British Prime Minister until her successor is chosen.

May’s demise became more certain this week as potential successors forced her to postpone the planned publication of legislation for Brexit and clarify her resignation date.

There was further controversy during voting in Britain on Thursday as more than 500 EU citizens who believed they were registered voters were refused the right to vote on the basis of technicalities. That number included a small number of Irish people who fell foul of new, Brexit-related bureaucracy over the voting rights of EU citizens. Labour MP David Lammy said the development amounted to “ugly discrimination” for people who had endured “three years of being insulted, exploited and asked to apply to stay in their own homes”.

In the 26 Counties, voting begins later today in local and EU elections, as well as a referendum on making divorce easier. There are 31 local authorities, with a total of 949 seats. A total of 1,977 candidates are running for election.

There are three Euro constituencies -- Dublin (four seats), Ireland South (five seats) and Midlands North West (four seats). The final candidate elected in both Dublin and the Ireland South constituencies must wait to take their seats until Brexit actually happens.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that the elections are an opportunity to “pass judgment on an out of touch and incompetent government”, pointing in particular to the failure of the minority government on housing.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael should not be rewarded for leaving a generation with no prospect of owning their own home, they should not be rewarded for 21st century tenements where 42 people are expected to share a kitchen,” she said.

Polls open at 7am this [Friday] morning and they will remain open until 10pm tonight. State-run broadcaster RTE says it will announce the results of an exit poll after voting closes.

Local election results from individual constituencies will start coming on Saturday afternoon but most will become known on Sunday. The referendum result will be revealed late Saturday or early Sunday.

Counting for the EU election will only commence in the 26 Counties on Sunday morning, though no results will be announced until polls have closed all over Europe at 10pm Sunday evening. Most results from Ireland’s three European constituencies will become available on Monday.

Counting for the EU election in the Six Counties will only begin on Monday morning and should be known by Monday evening. Results will be published here through the weekend and into Monday.

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