UK & World News
Ireland Votes On Whether To Scrap Senate
Votes are being counted as Ireland's citizens vote on whether to abolish the country's upper house of parliament.
On Friday, voters went to the polls to vote in two referenda. The first was on whether the Senate (Seanad) should be abolished after the next general election in 2016.
The second referendum asked people to vote on whether they supported the establishment of a Court of Appeal.
Counting of votes began across the country's 43 constituencies at 9am this morning and a result is expected later this afternoon.
Before it came to power, the current Irish Government promised that it would hold a referendum on the abolition of the Senate.
The main governing party Fine Gael has argued that the upper house costs too much money and is inefficient.
The cost of the upper house became the main talking point of the campaign in the weeks leading up to the vote.
The Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny claimed scrapping the Senate would save 20m Euro (£17m) each year.
Those against the abolition argued that the figure would be much less.
The Senate has 60 senators and is loosely based on the House of Lords in the UK.
Members can be elected by the Prime Minister or special panels of academics and politicians.
The Irish Government supported the Yes campaign for the abolition of the upper House of Parliament.
Unusually most of the main political parties including Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein came together to campaign for a "Yes" vote, the main opposition party Fianna F? campaigned for a No vote.
The second referendum on the establishment of a Court of Appeal has been overshadowed by the Senate debate.
Currently in Ireland there is a High Court and a Supreme Court. A Yes vote would allow the creation of a Court of Appeal which would hear cases before they reached the Supreme Court.
Supporters say it would cut the backlog of cases currently waiting to be heard in the Supreme Court.
The campaign leading up to the referenda had been somewhat slow and voters seemed disengaged.
The Irish Prime Minister was criticised for not taking part in a televised debate with other party leaders on the referenda issues.
Predictions of a low turnout seem to be correct, with early predictions indicating a voter turnout of less than 40%.