Belfast Telegraph

Selfless electoral workers getting into poll position

Electoral Office staff have voluntarily given up foreign breaks to work over the election period, it has emerged.

And outgoing chief electoral officer Graham Shields said many staff would also be working weekends and extra hours in the evenings for the March 2 poll.

"These are core staff who are very much needed and the point is that they voluntarily said they would change their plans, rather than having to be asked.

"One woman was going to Florida for her 50th birthday; another was going to St Lucia in the Bahamas, and another going to Spain, yet they have all rearranged their schedules.

"I think it shows the commitment of staff who know how important the election is," Mr Shields said.

His replacement as chief electoral officer is facing a baptism of fire - coming into position just a month before polling day.

Virginia McVea, a former director of the NI Human Rights Commission, formally takes up the position next Wednesday, February 1.

But Mr Shields agreed to stay on to aid a "seamless transition" and help prepare for what is being tipped as a bruising campaign.

"I have hopefully helped Virginia to ensure a seamless transition, since we are also dealing with a new computer system in the office," he said.

"Had it not been for the election, it is very likely we would have been able to bring in online registration in the next month or so."

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