European election candidates cast their votes

Voters are going to the polls in Northern Ireland to select three MEPs.

Polling stations opened at 7am on Thursday to allow the 1,278,951 people eligible to vote to do so.

Eleven candidates are standing to serve in Brussels and Strasbourg.

European Parliament election
European Parliament election

Two of the incumbents, Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson and Diane Dodds of the DUP, are standing for re-election.

Ulster Unionist veteran MEP Jim Nicholson is standing down.

His former seat is being hotly contested by his party colleague Danny Kennedy, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Alliance leader Naomi Long.

Most of the candidates cast their votes on Thursday morning.

Ms Anderson and Mr Eastwood both voted at the Model Primary School in Londonderry.

Mrs Dodds voted at Bannside Presbyterian Church Hall in Banbridge, Mr Kennedy voted at Bessbrook Primary School, and Mrs Long cast her ballot at St Colmcille’s Parish Centre in east Belfast.

TUV leader and candidate Jim Allister voted early at Kells Primary School in Co Antrim, and Green Party leader and candidate Clare Bailey will vote at Newtownbreda Baptist Church in south Belfast on Thursday afternoon.

The full list of candidates also includes Conservative Amandeep Bhogal, Robert Hill of Ukip, and independents Neil McCann and Jane Morrice.

🗳 Sinn Féin candidate @M_AndersonSF casts her vote in Derry. Stand against Brexit and for Ireland in Europe. Vótáil Anderson 1️⃣

— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) May 23, 2019

The polls will close at 10pm on Thursday but candidates face a long wait over the weekend to find out if they have been elected.

Voting in some of the 27 other EU countries will not end until 10pm on Sunday.

The counting of Northern Ireland’s votes using the proportional representation system will begin in Magherafelt at 8am on Monday.