General Election 2015: Polls close at 10pm – and then the counting begins

Members of the public cast their vote at a polling station in east Belfast
Members of the public cast their vote at a polling station in east Belfast

Just a few hours remain before the polls close in what is widely regarded as the most uncertain UK General Election for decades.

Polling stations in Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies opened at 7am and will close at 10pm – and then the counting begins.

The earliest declarations are expected in Foyle and North Antrim, which are both expected to declare around 1am on Friday.

Upper Bann is expected to declare at 1.15am and Lagan Valley at 1.30am.

Over the next couple of hours, most of the remaining seats should declare a result, with the final result expected to be Fermanagh and South Tyrone, which is scheduled to finish at 5am. However, recounts would lead to much later declarations.

Earlier in the day, Northern Ireland’s political leaders headed to the polls to cast their votes.

Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson cast his ballot in east Belfast while Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness voted in his native Londonderry.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell was accompanied to a polling station in south Belfast by his wife Olivia while Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt cast his vote in Gilnahirk in the east of the city.

Alliance deputy leader Naomi Long was joined by husband Michael as she voted in a primary school in the heart of the East Belfast seat she is hoping to retain.

Polling stations in Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.

In 2010 the DUP secured eight of the 18 seats, Sinn Fein five, the SDLP three, and the Alliance Party and independent Sylvia Hermon had one each. Turnout across Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies was just 57.6 per cent.