Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

General Election: 'We just want to get on with Christmas'... voters turn out in droves at Derry polling stations

Daire Ni Chanain
Daire Ni Chanain
Charlotte and Alan Donnell
Alec Orr
Jim Foster
Janice Arthur
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

They were out early and in force across Londonderry as the polling stations opened in what was one of the most hotly contested seats in Northern Ireland.

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The battle between heavy hitters Elisha McCallion (Sinn Fein) and Colum Eastwood (the SDLP) had raged for weeks with fake letters, social media blunders and celebrity endorsements being thrown into the mix.

And at the polling centres on Thursday morning people walking out after casting their vote said they were glad to "be done with it" and just wanted to just "get on with Christmas".

Many people went to cast their vote before their Christmas parties, walking into the polling station in Christmas jumpers, dresses, Santa earrings and antler headbands.

Over at the Glen Disability Centre polling station which serves part of Creggan and the Glen, people were certainly in festive mood.

Daire Ni Chanain, who wore an elaborate Brussels sprouts hairband and Christmas jumper to cast her vote, said it was important to vote as she wasn't happy with politics in Northern Ireland.

"Things are just not right in this country at the moment," the 24-year-old said.

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"There are a lot of things I don't agree with regards to how it's being run. So that really made me want to come out to vote to change things, because I'm really not happy with how things are going now.

"I have changed my vote this year. The other party that I used to vote for weren't really living up to expectations. The party that I changed to, I just feel that they will get it done, and they will live up to what they said they would do.

"They have also promised more realistic things, instead of going over the top and saying they will give us the world. I just feel that they will follow through and do what a young person here needs."

Janice Arthur says she didn't want to "waste" her vote.

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Janice Arthur

"Over the past two or three years I have voted for People Before Profit, just for an alternative voice," she said. "I feel that they look at the people's needs. When people aren't going to sit in their seats, it's a wasted vote."

Alan Donnell said sitting in government was hugely important to him.

"I voted for the party I always vote for, the person who will take their seat in government," he said.

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Charlotte and Alan Donnell

"And I know they will put their views to the government, whereas the other people won't, so what's the point? It is important to me to have my voice in there, for them to tell government what the people want, not sit back three years without a government and do nothing.

Over at Newbuildings Primary School things were a little more subdued. Some people didn't want to talk about who they were voting for, with many of them saying off the record that they were 'voting tactically for the person who will win and take their seat'.

Others voted for the party they had stood behind for decades.

Jim Foster, said he had not changed his vote, and that he voted for someone who he knew if he won, would take his seat and take a broad view of what Northern Ireland needs.

"I have stayed with the party I have always voted for," he said. "I think they represent the kind of outlook that I would be sympathetic to.

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Jim Foster

"Obviously there are a whole raft of important issues and I think I would like to see someone in there who is not fixated on one issue or another, but takes a broad view of what needs to be done and has the capacity to deliver it."

And for Alec Orr, getting Stormont up and running was top of his priorities.

"I just voted the same as I have always done," he said.

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Alec Orr

"The issues that took me to the polling station was hopefully to see the Assembly back functioning again and Brexit also.

"I would like to see Brexit done, over with. There is too much uncertainty."

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