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'Investment in this city and marriage equality are important to me'

Foyle

By Leona O'Neill

Rain of almost Biblical proportions bouncing off the pavements did not stop people turning out in Foyle, where Sinn Fein and the SDLP were locked in a tense battle to claim the seat.

The pre-election talk had been that outgoing MP Mark Durkan would come under big pressure from Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion.

The DUP's Gary Middleton, People Before Profit's Shaun Harkin and Alliance's John Doherty were also vying - somewhat optimistically - to become the next MP.

From early morning, staff manning polling stations reported a constant flow of people as ceaseless as the rain at centres on both sides of the river.

In Newbuildings, Londonderry's DUP heartland, voting was steady despite the adverse weather.

David Bell from Newbuildings said he voted for the DUP's Gary Middleton as he says he feels they "share the same beliefs".

"I am in agreement with their policy on abortion and on gay marriage, which I am opposed to, and as a believing Christian I would have strong views on," he said.

"In past elections I would have voted for the Official Unionist Party, but they have changed their position on a number of issues. I felt they were cowing down to Sinn Fein."

Ina Adair (74), also from Newbuildings, says that she voted for the SDLP's Mark Durkan.

"I am from the unionist community but have always voted for the SDLP," she says.

"I think Mark Durkan is the best of the lot of them. I have always voted for John Hume.

"I don't think young Gary Middleton has a hope. I am backing the winner, someone who is going to do something."

Ina's husband Uel (75) says he also voted for Mark Durkan as he is the only one "willing to take on the Tories".

"I would do anything to keep the Tories out of office," he said.

"The Tories will destroy us if they get in again. There will be more working-class people going to food banks.

"I think the DUP in this instance are voting with the Tories and I just wouldn't vote for the Conservatives.

"I have used my vote all my life. People died so that I could vote."

Over at the St John's Primary School polling station, in Derry's nationalist Creggan estate, people were voting between the two main nationalist parties.

Kathleen Bradley (36) said she voted for the SDLP candidate for the first time in her voting life.

"Even though I feel that Westminster has very little influence here, it is about little influence rather than no influence at all.

"Things that are important to me are investment in this city and marriage equality.

"I have a partner, but we cannot get married. At this point in time she can't be my wife.

"You have to think smart sometimes. I would rather have an MP speak for me in the room than outside."

Mickey Doherty (80) says that he voted for Sinn Fein "in memory of Martin McGuinness".

"I voted for Sinn Fein's Elisha McCallion," he said. I know them all personally. I believe in their principles.

"It doesn't matter to me that they won't take their seats in Westminster, they are not going to get anything anyway, it's a waste of b****y time."

Margaret Cusack (69) says she voted for Mr Durkan as "he knows what he is talking about".

"I think Mark Durkan is the best candidate," she said.

"He is really well educated and knows what he is talking about. I have always voted for the SDLP.

"I worry about the pensions, about nurses, about education and I know he will fight for these things. I think he is for the people. I think he will do good."

Margaret's husband Eugene says he voted for Sinn Fein and hopes that they will eventually take their seats.

"It doesn't bother me that they will not take their seats and I think they will some time," he said.

"I am hoping that they will take them soon and I'm voting in the hope that it does happen."

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