Belfast Telegraph

Latvians go to the polls in Newry

Latvians in Northern Ireland go to the polls this weekend to elect a new parliament.

The election follows a referendum earlier this summer which favoured dissolution of the Latvian government. The Baltic state's president called for the referendum over a corruption row.

About 4,000 Latvians live in Northern Ireland and are expected to attend a voting station in Newry, Co Down, on Saturday.

Honorary consul of the Republic of Latvia in Northern Ireland, businessman Gerard O'Hare, said: "It is a great honour for us here in Newry to be engaged in the process of change of the Latvian government and the hosting of the parliamentary elections for Latvian citizens here in Northern Ireland.

"Holding these elections here in Newry gives the Latvian people here in Northern Ireland and the border counties the opportunity to have their say on the political landscape in Latvia."

The polling station at Drumalane Mill in the Quays shopping centre, Newry, will be open to any Latvian citizens.

The dispute which led to the referendum involved the previous parliament's refusal to allow prosecutors to search the home of a rich businessman who is also a member of the legislature.

Some Latvians in Ireland keep close ties with home through family members. Others have moved their entire immediate families to the Republic or Northern Ireland to take advantage of jobs which were created in the service and other sectors during the economic boom.

Latvia declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. It is one of the poorest members of the European Union (EU) and has suffered from the recent economic crisis.

The last election was held in October last year. The country is recovering from the EU's toughest recession, partly inspired by widespread budget cuts similar to those now being carried out in eurozone countries.


From Belfast Telegraph