The Republic of Ireland is set to go to the polls this weekend for the first Saturday general election since 1918.

It is thought the reason for a Saturday election is to ease the burden on families so parents would not need to take time off to look after children, if schools, which are often used as polling stations, are closed.

In 2019, three elections took place here; the local Council elections and the European elections both in May and the general election in December.

For each, voting took place on a Thursday resulting in the closure of many schools in Fermanagh which were used as polling stations.

Thousands of pupils across Fermanagh and South Tyrone missed school due to an election last year.

In the local Council elections and European elections, out of 23 polling stations used 20 were primary schools.

Castle Park Centre in Lisnaskea; Newtownbutler Courthouse Community Centre and Letterbreen Methodist Hall were the only polling stations used which were not primary schools.

For the general election in December, there were 21 primary schools in the constituency used for polling.

Approximately 3,000 children missed school on two days during May due to the elections and the December election made it a third day in 2019. In all areas were a primary school was used as a polling station there were suitable alternatives including the Lakeland Forum and St. Michael’s Scout Hall in Enniskillen instead of Enniskillen Model Primary School and Holy Trinity Primary School.

Various community centres in villages around the county could also have been utilised instead of the schools.

The use of schools as polling stations has been ongoing for years and Chief Electoral Officer, Virginia McVea said that the Government legislated for primary schools to be used as polling stations and the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland (EONI) simply comply with the legislation and with any government direction that an election is to place.

The EONI have no influence over the choosing of polling stations.

Mrs. McVea said polling stations can change depending on a number of factors such as different boundaries in different types of elections but in broad terms many polling stations remain the same.

There was a public consultation on Local Council election polling stations last year as directed by legislation and under legislation the EONI. There was also a consultation on polling stations again for Parliamentary elections.

There is little evidence to show whether voter turnout would be affected by a weekend election, but in one Saturday by-election in the Tipperary South in the Republic of Ireland in 2001, turnout was higher than a by-election in the same constituency the previous year which was held on a Thursday.