Belfast Telegraph

Family members join party leaders at polling stations across Northern Ireland

Ballot boxes are opened at the leisure centre in Omagh last night
Ballot boxes are opened at the leisure centre in Omagh last night
Arlene Foster
Steve Aiken and wife Beth
Colum Eastwood with his wife Rachael and children Rosa and Maya
Michelle O’Neill

By David Young

Northern Ireland's political leaders were joined by family members and staff as they cast their votes yesterday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster voted in Brookeborough in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, where Ulster Unionist candidate Tom Elliott, who was backed by the DUP, was aiming to unseat Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew.

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill cast her ballot 40 miles away in her home village of Clonoe in Co Tyrone.

She called in to have a chat with party workers who based themselves in a caravan outside the polling station all day.

In several seats, Sinn Fein joined forces with the SDLP and Greens to a maximise the chances of defeating DUP Brexiteers.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood was accompanied by wife Rachael and their children Maya and Rosa as he voted in Londonderry.

While Mr Eastwood's party has stood aside to help a Sinn Fein candidate in North Belfast - a move reciprocated by Sinn Fein in South Belfast - the parties are going head-to-head in Londonderry for the Foyle seat.

Elsewhere, Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken arrived at Upper Ballyboley Primary School in East Antrim to cast his ballot along with his wife Beth.

Alliance leader Naomi Long voted shortly afterwards in East Belfast.

Mrs Long, accompanied by her husband Michael, was hoping for a repeat of her famous victory in 2010 when she dethroned then-First Minister Peter Robinson.

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