Belfast Telegraph

NI Assembly Election: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood gives UUP his vote in Derry

By Leona O'Neill

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood was out early on Thursday morning in Derry to cast his vote, giving Foyle UUP candidate Julia Kee his stamp of approval.

The 33-year-old party leader was accompanied by his wife Rachael and daughter Rosa as he cast his vote at the Model Primary School near the city centre.

He said he was feeling very confident about the outcome of today's election and voted for candidates 'right down the ballot paper'.

Live: Northern Ireland Assembly election 2017 - voters head to the polls 

“I'm feeling very good, we have worked very hard,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“This is a very important election, probably the most important election since the Good Friday Agreement Referendum. People have an opportunity here to save devolution or we are going to have direct rule if we keep voting DUP and Sinn Fein. Hopefully we have a chance to make a change here, to protect the institutions that we have fought so hard to have. And that is what is at stake in this election. We are hoping that people will come out and vote and vote the right way.

“I did vote for the UUP candidate,” he said. “I voted right down the ballot paper. There were a few candidates that I didn't vote for, but they will not be surprised by that.”

The UUP's Mike Nesbitt has previously stated that he would select the SDLP as his second preference after the UUP on his own ballot paper. The move caused a stir in his party, with one party member resigning and others refusing to back Mr Nesbitt's stance.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness was not in attendance when his wife Bernie and their daughter Grainne arrived at the Model Primary School polling station to cast their votes on Thursday. Mrs McGuinness did not speak to the media gathered outside.

People Before Profit candidate Eamonn McCann arrived at the same polling station shortly afterwards to cast his vote, giving his partner Goretti an affectionate kiss before they entered the building.

Voting has been reported as 'steady' at polling stations across Derry today.

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