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Sinn Féin voice concerns over threat to Derry Polling stations

17 January, 2005

Sinn Féin Derry City Councillors Lynn Fleming and Barney O'Hagan accompanied by Mitchel McLaughlin MLA and Director of Elections Gary Fleming are today meeting with Denis Stanley, Chief Electoral Officer and his staff to discuss the possible closure of polling stations in Derry.

Councillor O'Hagan said:

"The Sinn Féin delegation will be meeting with Denis Stanley today to discuss the siting of polling stations in the Derry area. There has been a concern that some of these stations will be closed due to trouble that occurred at the close of polling at the last election.

"Sinn Féin will be opposing any attempt to close these stations and will be reinforcing that message to Mr Stanley

"Sinn Féin believe that the PSNI have been the root cause of the trouble when they arrive to remove the ballot boxes from the stations. The young people in several areas have developed a culture of attacking the PSNI when they arrive at close of polling. By developing alternatives to the PSNI collecting the boxes we believe we can break this cycle of violence.

"There is nothing within the current legislation that states that the PSNI needs to be involved in the polling operation unless summoned by an electoral officer. Sinn Féin will be asking Mr Stanley to explore some of these alternatives so that we can make polling stations accessible to the electorate.

"Any move to make it more difficult for people to access the democratic process can only serve to disenfranchise people. The Electoral Office should consider all solutions that protect the right of people in these areas to vote that protect the democratic process." ENDS

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