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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

SDLP to meet with election office over claims votes were 'stolen' in constituency it lost to Sinn Féin

“This is a matter of public confidence and it is critical that all efforts are made to ensure that any malpractice is not tolerated.”

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE SDLP IS to meet with the North’s electoral office over claims that votes in Derry were “stolen”.

The party lost the Foyle seat which party leader John Hume and his successor Mark Durkan had held since 1983 to Sinn Féin last week. Sinn Féin’s Elisha McCallion won the seat ahead of Durkan by just 169 votes.

However, the PSNI has confirmed it is investigating reports of issues around voting in the constituency.

The Belfast Telegraph today quotes a number of people who say that when they showed up to vote, they were told their votes had been cast.

One man, Michael McLaughlin, says that he showed up to vote and was told he already had.

“I said it couldn’t have been used as I hadn’t been down.

“I was livid. They asked me to fill in a pink slip, a draft vote, which I told them made a mockery of the whole system. It was fraud, pure and simple.”

MLA for the constituency – and Durkan’s nephew – Mark H Durkan said that he raised the issue with police before the election and would meet with the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland over the claims.

“Prior to the election I had expressed concerns to the electoral office and to the PSNI regarding breaches of the electoral rules constituents had raised with me.

“While the PSNI have stated publically that they are investigating the concerns that have been reported to them, since the election, more constituents have approached me about their votes being stolen on polling day.

“Today, I am meeting with the chief executive of the electoral office to present the evidence and to ask for an investigation.

“This is a matter of public confidence and it is critical that all efforts are made to ensure that any malpractice is not tolerated.”

The SDLP did not win any seats in the Westminster elections, as Sinn Féin and the DUP took 17 out of 18 seats.

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