Flags outlawed at polling stations

Election Diary 2014
Election Diary 2014

Voters should not face pressure from canvassers as they enter polling stations if parties stick to a new code of conduct.

The main parties have signed up to the voluntary code which outlaws behaviour “which may leave them open to complaints of harassment or intimidation”.

The document bans the attachment of flags, emblems, banners, posters “or any other item used in connection with canvassing” to any part of a polling station or its boundary.

The code has been drawn up in response to public complaints in past elections.

It also states: “Canvassers should not stop, or in any way impede, the free flow of vehicular traffic entering or leaving the grounds of a polling place.”

Nicholson concerns over ‘cash for a vote’

UUP MEP Jim Nicholson has expressed concern at reports that some GPs have been charging money for signing postal vote forms for those in ill-health.

After reports that one doctors’ surgery was charging £15 for a signature, the long-standing UUP representative said: “The freedom to vote in elections in a democracy is a right hard won though conflict with those who would have removed that right.”

He added: “I call upon those GPs engaged in this practice to stop charging people for the right to vote and for the health minister to step in and guarantee a truly free and unfettered access to the ballot box for those in ill-health.”

We’ll clean up polluted political scene: Greens

The Green Party has said that its 14 council candidates will work to “clean up local politics” if they are elected.

At a manifesto launch in the not-for-profit Common Grounds cafe in the university area of Belfast, the party said it was “fighting these elections committed to transparency, equality and diversity”.

The party’s manifesto argues that “big money pollutes politics” and it said that it would continue to push for legislation which shows “who is serving their wealthy backers and who is working for the common good”.

Leader Steven Agnew said the Greens were “a local party with a global vision”. The North Down MLA said: “I urge voters to take the time to read our manifestos so they can see exactly what we stand for.

“We are the only party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and with elected representatives on local councils, that does not accept corporate donations. We also publish all our donations over £500.”

He said that by voting for European election candidate Ross Brown, the electorate could have an MEP who would be part of one of the largest European Parliament groups with 48 other Green MEPs.

Crucial that ethnic minorities vote: Lo

Members of ethnic minorities need to get involved in the political process to ensure that their voice is heard in government, Alliance European election candidate Anna Lo has said.

The Hong Kong-born South Belfast MLA, who has lived in Northern Ireland for most of her life, said: “It is only by voting that we can make sure that we elect the representatives who are going to move this country away from the politics of ‘us and them’, and towards a shared future.”