Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly ordered just 2,500 copies of the grossly sectarian leaflet which caused uproar.
Confirmation that only a relatively small number of the leaflets were printed gives weight to suggestions at the time that Mr Kelly was only distributing the flyer in certain parts of the constituency where he believed such a message would resonate with voters.
The revelation is contained in documents lodged with the Electoral Office in Belfast, which show that he ordered 2,500 of the ‘Make the change’ communication and had them delivered on March 1 – more than two months before the election.
The leaflet included a bar chart for the total number of Catholics and Protestants in North Belfast.
And it took the total number of those born as Catholics – including even those who now are atheists or who are too young to vote – and described them as “a nationalist majority”.
The election result reinforced the inaccuracy of Mr Kelly’s claim that all Catholics are nationalists – the DUP’s Nigel Dodds won comfortably with a majority of 5,326 over Mr Kelly, whose share of the vote fell slightly.
After initially defending his sectarian leaflet which described all Catholics as nationalists, Gerry Kelly – who even faced public criticism from Sinn Fein colleagues over the leaflet – said that the leaflet should not have been issued.
Days after the election, Mr Kelly told the North Belfast News that “in retrospect” the leaflet, above, should have been withdrawn.
But he came up with another bizarre claim to justify why he had drawn up the leaflet in the first place. Initially, Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin claimed that it referred to religion because the Electoral Commission banned the party from using past election results in its leaflet. She withdrew that claim when it was pointed out that Mr Kelly had used election results in newspaper adverts.
Mr Kelly then claimed that unidentified Royal Mail workers are responsible for the contents of the Sinn Fein leaflet.
He told the paper: “When that was brought to the Post Office... they said that those figures were census figures, and census figures are couched in terms of Catholic and Protestant and other, and therefore we had to use that.”
In total, Mr Kelly spent £1,767 on “unsolicited material to electors”. He spent £250 on 8,000 A5 ‘Kelly vs Dodds’ flyers which were delivered seven months before the election.
Mr Kelly’s total spending was £10,538 to Mr Dodds’s £14,702.