Northern Ireland Election 2017

Assembly Election 2017: Raining crocs and dogs

A sign indicates a polling station set up at a school in Castlederg, County Tyrone Image copyright AFP
Image caption A sign indicates a polling station set up at a school in Castlederg, County Tyrone

It was a colourful turnout at polling stations across Northern Ireland for the 2017 Assembly election on Thursday.

While some predicted an increase in voter turnout, partly due to the enormous media interest in Stormont's collapse, other visitors to polling stations were asked to stay away.

Voting went to the dogs as the electoral office issued a statement asking people to paws for thought before bringing their four-legged friends along to vote.

Image copyright Liam McBurney
Image caption A dog waits outside as a voter arrives at the South Belfast Polling Station

But that didn't stop some doggy (and democracy) lovers from indulging their pooches in a bit of polling-day excitement and the hashtag #dogsatpollingstations really took off.

In some cases, polling staff had to stand outside polling stations holding the pets on leads while their owners went inside to vote.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A dog makes its way to a boathouse being used as a polling station at Groomsport

A spokesperson for the electoral office said: "While dogs are still welcome, people should not combine their evening stroll with their pets with the task of going to vote.

"It is also worth remembering that in some cases, polling stations are in school canteens, so there is a hygiene question as well."

She stressed there was absolutely no problem with guide dogs.

Another animal enjoying the limelight on polling day was one you would not normally expect to see in Northern Ireland - the crocodile.

Image copyright Liam McBurney/PA
Image caption Irish language activist Dominic Sherry casts his vote at a West Belfast polling station
Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption A crocodile lurks outside a polling station

Following Arlene Foster's "feeding the crocodile" reference to Sinn Féin during the campaign, social media was awash with snappy jokes like these on Thursday.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

While the seriousness of the political situation was not lost on voters, there was no shortage of opportunities to poke fun.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

The Progressive Unionist Party also harnessed social media to promote its candidate Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston with its own Snapchat filter.

It suggested supporters take a selfie before or after entering the polling booth and use the filter to tell their friends how they voted.

Image copyright Twitter