SDLP's Mark H Durkan to meet PSNI over Foyle voting fraud

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan is to meet with the PSNI on Monday to discuss the police investigation into electoral fraud in the Foyle constituency.

Friday, 16th June 2017, 8:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
Mark H Durkan said he is to meet the PSNI on Monday

Mr Durkan is amongst a number of high-profile politicians from a range of parties to have expressed concern about issues surrounding proxy voting, information being passed to the outside from within the polling station and even outright voter impersonation during the general election.

In the Foyle constituency, where the margin between the winning candidate and the runner-up was just 169 votes, reports have emerged this week of numerous people having been turned away from polling stations after being told someone had already cast their vote.

One of those who said he had his vote “stolen” on polling day was Patrick Doherty.

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He told the News Letter that he was “disgusted” and “angry” after an apparent impersonator had presumably shown identification bearing his name at the polling station.

Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion took the Foyle seat from the SDLP’s Mark Durkan, who had been MP for Foyle since 2005. She is the first Sinn Fein MP to hold the seat since the constituency was created in 1983.

The PSNI, meanwhile, has confirmed they are investigating reports of electoral fraud.

Mark H Durkan is a party colleague and nephew of the defeated MP.

He told the News Letter he will outline his concerns to the PSNI during Monday’s meeting and press upon them the importance of their investigation into any abuse of the democratic process.

He said: “I am very keen to learn what action they have taken on the reports that have been forwarded to them and what action they are taking.”

He added: “This kind of malpractice and criminality can’t be and won’t be tolerated. We need to ensure that we have an electoral system that we can have faith in.”

Mr Durkan, alongside other politicians including the DUP’s Gary Middleton and People Before Profit’s Eamonn McCann, had voiced concerns in the aftermath of the general election.

Mr Middleton, for example, highlighted the sharp increase in the number of proxy votes registered within a short period of time.

He said: “We are not trying to take away from proxy voting for genuine reasons but we have seen people come forward who don’t even know who the person is who is supposed to have voted for them.”

Mark H Durkan also met with the Electoral Office this week. Afterwards, the Chief Electoral Officer Virginia McVea said the available evidence does not suggest “widespread” electoral fraud.