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The Government has today confirmed polling details for the Presidential election this autumn. The Presidential Election Order, which was officially issued by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, this morning, set polling day as Thursday 27th October 2011, with voting taking place from 7am to 10pm.

Only Irish citizens aged 18 years or older on polling day, and who are ordinarily resident within the State, are entitled to vote in the presidential election. People who are eligible to vote, but who are not currently on the register of electors, still have time to apply for entry to the supplementary register of electors, which will be published before polling day. You can check if you are registered to vote here and there is more information on who may vote and registering to vote here.

Applications for inclusion on the supplementary register must be received by Monday 3rd October 2011 – you can download the form to apply to inclusion on the supplementary register here.

If you wish to apply for a postal vote, only two days remain to apply – closing date for applications for a postal vote is Thursday close of business. The following people may qualify for a postal ballot: full-time students away from home, people who cannot vote because of their jobs, people suffering from an illness or disability, members of the diplomatic corps posted abroad (or their spouse), Gardaí, members of the Defence Forces, and people are due to be in prison on polling day. Voters who require a postal vote because of illness or disability need to complete form PV1, other postal vote applicants should complete form PV2.

Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile, principal officer at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has been appointed as the Returning Officer. She will receive nominations at the Custom House, Dublin 1 from now until Wednesday 28th September.

The issue of the Presidential Election Order means that prospective candidates may now set about formally completing the nomination process. In order to become a presidential candidate, a person must be nominated by at least 20 members of the Oireachtas, or by four local authorities (county or city councils). The Fine Gael candidate for the presidency is Gay Mitchell MEP.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has not nominated any person as a presidential candidate, but a special meeting of the Council will take place on Monday night (5th September) at 7pm, where councillors will be addressed by three prospective candidates: Richard McSweeney, Gary Smylie, and Garrett Kelly. Please contact me if you would like to attend this meeting, which will take place in the Council Chamber, County Hall, Dún Laoghaire.

The Government intends to hold at least two referenda at the same time as the presidential election on the 27th of October. As I understand it, neither of these referenda will be on children’s rights as the Government does not want to politicise the issue. Instead, the children’s rights referendum will be held with referenda on political reform in 2012, probably around March.

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