Assembly election candidate with baby refused entry to count centre
A breastfeeding Assembly candidate who was denied entry to a count centre in Ballymena with her infant son has said she was left distressed as she hit out at the discrimination she faced.
Fay Watson of the Alliance Party was initially barred from the main sports hall at Seven Towers Leisure Centre yesterday morning.
After half an hour waiting outside she was finally allowed to bring young Charlie through the doors.
She said: "I was not allowed to enter the count with my son who is being breastfed. I am grateful that it was remedied after 30 or so minutes, however it shows the discrimination that breastfeeding women still face."
Watson, who got 1,017 first preference votes in Mid Ulster, was left "upset and distressed".
Ms Watson arrived at the count centre with Charlie but was told children under 12 are not allowed into the count.
Ms Watson said she stood outside with her child for half an hour until she was eventually allowed to bring him in.
"I'm very grateful that they sorted it out for me, but it was very distressing," she said
"I knew that children under 12 weren't allowed to gain entry, but in the case of a breastfeeding woman I thought I would be able to take him in, because there's no other way to feed him.
"Obviously I can't leave him up in the cafe with a stranger. It was very upsetting to me."
An Alliance Party spokesperson said: "We're disappointed our Mid Ulster candidate Fay Watson, a breastfeeding mum, was initially denied entry to count with her son this morning."
An Electoral Office spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: "Children are not normally permitted in count centres.
"However, following a request relating to the need to breast feed an infant, an exception was made in this case."