Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Voters’ concern at non-relocation of polling station

The refusal of the Electoral Office to relocate a polling station in Whitecross, ahead of next Thursday’s Assembly election day, is a “flippant dismissal” of voters’ concerns, Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady has claimed.

Kingsmill Church Hall is habitually used as the area’s polling station, however major road works has forced the closure of part of the main road close by and many voters are facing a detour of up to six miles.  Mr Brady says a common sense approach would be to use Whitecross Community Centre as the polling station and has criticized the Electoral Office for refusing to relocate it.

“For a long time there has been frustration that the Electoral Office has insisted on using Kingsmill Church Hall as the local polling station,” Mr Brady said.  “Common sense at the very least would see that Whitecross Community Centre is more accessible and central for the large local population. This has been compounded now by the fact that major roadworks at the Kingmill / Drumnahunshin junction section of the road has commenced and many wishing to cast their vote on the 2nd of March will be faced with a six mile detour”.

Having raised the concerns of local residents with the Chief Electoral Officer [Ms Virginia McVea], he added: “Those concerns appear now to have been dismissed by her as having ‘no impact on accessibility and no significant delays’. This is extremely unfortunate and many view this flippant dismissal of their concerns as further attempts by the Electoral Office to disenfranchise them, rather thanfulfilling their objective of ensuring accessibility for all those who wish to vote.”

Mr Brady urged people not to be deterred but to come out and cast their vote, adding that anyone experiencing difficulty in reaching Kingsmill, or any other, polling station should contact any Sinn Fein activist for assistance.