17 February 2005 Edition
200,000 votes missing off register
Sinn Féin's Director of Elections in the Six Counties, Seán Begley, has described as a scandal the latest revelation from the Electoral Office that up to 200,000 voters are missing from this year's register.
And as the Electoral Commission this week launched a campaign to get the missing voters back on the register, Seán Begley pointed the finger at the British Government which, he says, "deliberately set out to disenfranchise Sinn Féin voters with the introduction of the Electoral Fraud Act of three years ago.
"It is a bit rich of the electoral commission to launch a campaign to get people on the register for May's election when the whole purpose of the legislation was to make it hard for people to vote," he said. "It was especially targeted at Sinn Féin voters in an attempt to stem the electoral rise of our party."
The Sinn Féin representative accused the North's other parties of going along with the British Government in bringing in the Act, especially the SDLP who, he says, "colluded with the British e in an attempt to secure their electoral position in face of the rising political influence of Sinn Féin".
Anyone not registered by 10 March will not be eligible to vote in this year's local government election on 5 May, which is widely believed to also be the date set aside for the British Westminster elections.
"At a time when we have a political onslaught from our political enemies that is attempting to marginalise Sinn Féin and criminalise out electorate it is important that republicans and nationalists are registered," said Begley. "This is a very important election, it is about defending the peace process and recognising that Sinn Féin is the only party fully behind it at present."