School polling block after protests

close up of hand and voting ballot
close up of hand and voting ballot

A Northern Ireland school will not be used as a polling station in the General Election after “hostile” loyalist protests during voting last year.

The demonstration was held outside Howard Primary School in Moygashel, Co Tyrone, during the May 2014 European and council elections.

The MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone, Sinn Fein’s Michelle Gildernew, expressed serious concerns to the Electoral Commission last year.

She said: “The presence of a large number of hostile flag protesters outside the polling station in Moygashel on election day for the European election deterred many people from voting and exercising their democratic right.

“This is a victory for common sense and one that will now allow the democratic process in this area to go unhindered.”

The Electoral Office, which organises polls in Northern Ireland, confirmed the change.

Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the decision by the Electoral Commission to close Moygashel polling station and has called it “a victory for common sense which will allow the democratic process to go unhindered”.

“The presence of a large number of hostile flag protestors outside the polling station in Moygashel on Election day for the European election deterred many people from voting and exercising their democratic right,” she said.

“Indeed several protestors came with knives and removed Sinn Féin posters from the area.

“It was a disgrace this protest was allowed to happen in the first place by the PSNI never mind be in situ for two and a half hours during voting.

“I made representations on this issue on behalf of my constituents to the Electoral Commission expressing our serious concerns.

“I welcome the subsequent consultation and the decision reached to close the Moygashel polling station.”

She said that while she understands that some people “may have to travel slightly further to the two new polling stations at Dungannon Leisure Centre and St. Patrick’s Primary School it is undoubtedly the a better option than to allow this level of intimidation to happen again”.