Drawn out vote count branded a shambles

Diane Dodds pictured at the European Election count at the King's Hall in Belfast
Diane Dodds pictured at the European Election count at the King's Hall in Belfast

The DUP began yesterday evening in jubilant mood as the results of the European election began coming through – though the count is yet to finish.

There was heavy criticism of just how long it is taking to tot up the votes, and the party’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the Province had been made to look a “shambles” by the drawn-out process.

The votes had been cast last Thursday at the same time as those for the new supercouncils, and it was expected that yesterday would mark the final stage in 2014’s elections.

Mr Dodds said: “There is frustration amongst all parties about just how long this is taking and about the fact everywhere else in Europe has finished a long, long time ago and I just can’t believe that we are once again in this situation in a Northern Ireland election and I think it does diminish democracy.

“People are entitled to have these votes declared in a timely and efficient way and it really does bring us into disrepute when it doesn’t happen.”He said it seemed that not enough staff had been laid on, but the chief electoral officer insisted this was not the case, and said: “I don’t think anybody could have reasonably foreseen that a count would have run into two days” – adding that it showed Northern Ireland needs to embrace electronic vote counting.

According to the first preference votes (counted yesterday evening) Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson topped the poll by a clear margin, but the incomplete count meant she was the only candidate who had officially been elected at time of writing last night.

Diane Dodds looks on course to take a seat as well, and the DUP had erupted in joy when her preliminary figures were announced.

The UUP’s Jim Nicholson may well gain one too, but last night it looked like they would both have to wait to find out for certain.