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Rathlin Island voters win ballot box battle

Voters on Rathlin Island have won a campaign to keep their only ballot box.

The Electoral Office had proposed removing the polling station from Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island and asking the 100 inhabitants instead to cast a postal vote or sail to Ballycastle to vote in person.

But the suggestion met with strong local opposition and islanders set up a petition against the move ahead of May's Assembly and council elections.

Chief Electoral Officer Graham Shields said the concerns of the residents, and those who had objected to other ballot box changes in Northern Ireland, had been considered during a public consultation.

"Having given due consideration to the objections and proposals received during the prescribed consultation period for the draft scheme, amendments as appropriate have duly been made," he said.

Moyle councillor Cara McShane, who was involved in the campaign to keep the box, welcomed the announcement.

"This is fantastic news," said the Sinn Fein representative.

"The people on Rathlin campaigned vigorously for this service to be retained.

"They were concerned that if it was taken away it could have had a domino effect on other public services.

"Clearly they made the point they should not be treated differently to anyone else - there were concerns that elderly people in particular would have been reluctant to post their ballot or travel to vote."

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