Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Howard Primary School in Moygashel reinstated as polling station

Howard Primary School in Moygashel, County Tyrone Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Loyalists protested outside Howard Primary School during last year's elections

A County Tyrone primary school has been reinstated as a polling station, after it was dropped because of loyalist protests during last year's elections.

Chief electoral officer Graham Shields had announced in January that Howard Primary School in Moygashel would no longer be used.

However, the Electoral Commission told him voters should have had a chance to provide their views on the proposal.

Mr Shields has now announced a further two-week consultation.

Mr Shields, who is head of the Electoral Office in Northern Ireland, said it would be held from 26 March to 9 April.

"A decision will be announced on polling arrangements for the affected electors as soon as possible following the end of the consultation period," the Electoral Office said in a statement.

Complaint

During the European and council elections in May 2014, a group of loyalists held a protest outside Howard Primary School.

Observers from the Electoral Commission voting watchdog who were at the school raised concerns about what they described as a hostile environment.

The MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone, Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew, complained to the Electoral Commission about its use as a polling station.

After the initial decision in January to drop the primary school as a voting location, people were to be assigned to polling stations in Dungannon and Eglish.

However, this move was appealed by Lord Morrow of the DUP, while Ulster Unionist assembly member Tom Elliott, who is standing as a joint unionist candidate in Fermanagh South Tyrone, also sent representations from more than 30 voters.

In a letter to Mr Shields, the Electoral Commission said there was a failure to properly consult on the decision to no longer use the school.

"We wish to stress that we express no comment on the substantive merit of the decision that you reached," it said.

"We only find that the process that was followed during the review that led to that decision did not meet electors' reasonable requirements because of the failure to consult them on the significant changes made to the arrangements that were initially proposed."

In the last general election in 2010, Mrs Gildernew took the Fermanagh South Tyrone seat by four votes, following three recounts.

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