[Sinn Fein]

19th March 2003

Ongoing difficulties with electoral registration raised with Tony Blair

Sinn Fein MLA Bairbre de Brún has expressed ongoing concern at the difficulties posed by the registration process for those with literacy difficulties. Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Fein has raised the issue of those with literacy difficulties in a number of meetings with the Electoral Office. Electoral registration, or more accurately non-registration, is an issue that has to be dealt with in a focused manner.

"We have identified this specific constituency in the electorate which has been discriminated against because no special measures were applied in the light of the new registration procedures to those with literacy difficulties. They were just ignored.

"Anyone not in a position to read the form, or sign it themselves, was not added to the register, and the way chosen to communicate this to them was also by letter.

"We have asked the electoral office to deal with the problems faced by those with literacy difficulties in their efforts to address the shortfall in the electoral register.

"The onus is firmly with the Electoral Office to fulfil its legal and moral duty to ensure that everyone who is entitled to vote is registered. The Electoral Office is duty bound to ensure that people can exercise their democratic right

"Sinn Fein has also handed a letter to Tony Blair outlining our concerns in relation to the electoral register, and in relation to this issue in particular,

"I am calling on people not to be put off by barriers you may have encountered to date in trying to make sure you are on the register. If you are in any doubt contact your local Council, Electoral Office or Sinn Fein Centre for assistance."

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