20 June 2002 Edition

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Judicial review over Electoral Commission decision

Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew was at Belfast High Court on Monday as the party sought a Judicial Review challenging the decision of the Electoral Commission not to award a policy development grant to Sinn Féin in line with the party's mandate.

The Electoral Commission has given £133,921 to the UUP, DUP and SDLP while ignoring the fact that Sinn Féin has four MPs.

"The decision of the Electoral Commission to deny Sinn Féin almost £100,000, which it is entitled to, is both discriminatory and in bad faith," she said. "This Judicial Review is aimed at challenging this decision.

"Sinn Féin has twice the required number of MPs and should be entitled to this money as of right. As we witnessed at the last election the majority of nationalists in the North support the Sinn Féin position on abstentionism.

"Our legitimate abstentionist position is being used to deny Sinn Féin members and our electorate their full rights and entitlements. This decision discriminates against our political beliefs, gives our political opponents an unfair advantage and distorts the level playing field upon which elections are supposed to be fought.

"This has already been evident with parties who have received this money in investing in new full time staff and resources, a fact which will undoubtedly give them an unfair advantage at next year's Assembly elections.

"Sinn Féin does not expect or demand any more than we are entitled to. This decision by the Electoral Commission is part of the old failed agenda which for years attempted to ignore or deny the Sinn Féin mandate."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
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