‘Electoral Office failing the people of North Antrim’ - McGuigan
The Electoral Office are failing in their responsibilities to the people of North Antrim through the poor handling of the Ian Paisley recall petition, Sinn Féin’s Philip McGuigan has said.
The North Antrim MLA was speaking after a number of political parties expressed concern that people felt intimidated from signing the petition in case they were identified by DUP supporters.
“The Electoral Office had the option of opening up to ten locations where people could sign the petition, yet they opted to go for just three in Ballymena, Ballymoney and Ballycastle,” he commented.
“It is already clear, and a number of parties have expressed similar concerns, that many people do not feel comfortable attending some of these locations because it would be obvious that the only reason they are there is to sign the petition.
“The Electoral Office could have easily prevented this by opening more centres across the constituency and we would again call on them to do precisely that.
“The Chief Electoral Officer must also take steps to address the other serious concerns that have been raised since the petition opened. I have been made aware of a number of incidents including signage being damaged or removed altogether, a constituent arriving to find the door locked and the petition being moved to a less accessible room.
“This situation has been compounded by the lack of an effective public awareness campaign and the restrictive opening hours of the signing centres.
“The people of the North Antrim have democratic rights with regard to the petition to remove their MP from office. The Electoral Office should be facilitating them in exercising that right and not putting obstacles in their way.
“The current arrangements are simply not good enough and the Electoral Office will be failing in their responsibilities to the people of North Antrim if they do not take immediate measures to rectify them.”