Election chaos as Irish voters excluded

Calls grow to have contest declared null and void

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Calls are growing for today's election contest in the Brentford and Isleworth constituency to be declared null and void following an adminstrative error which has deprived many Irish voters of the right to vote.

Irish citizens resident in the constituency, who are allowed to vote in UK general elections, have been incorrectly classified as category 'G' voters which represents citizens of EU countries not allowed to vote. Irish voters turning up at polling stations are being told that they are not eligible to participate. It is not known at this stage what is happening to the votes of Irish citizens who voted by post but it is being presumed that these votes too will be declared invalid.

According to the National Statistics database, Irish citizens make up 3% of the population of the Brentford and Isleworth constituency with significant Irish communities in all parts. One estimate is that Irish voters could make up around 5% of the electorate as the main wave of immigration into the area was several decades ago and the Irish population tends to be older. This would represent about 3,000 voters and if the majority of the winning candidate was less than this number it is possible that demands for a re-run of the contest would be significant.

One Irish voter who was turned away at the polling station said, "It was a humiliating and embarrassing experience. Any election which deprives a part or the community their rights in this way must be declared invalid."

However, a representative of the Returning Officer is claiming that the number of voters affected in the constituency is only a few hundred. The Returning Officer was reportedly aware of the problem a few days ago and took legal advice on whether to proceed with the contest.

At this stage it is believed that the problem is confined to constituencies in Hounslow Borough. There have been no reports of this being an issue elsewhere in the country. Voters in the Hammersmith & Fulham and Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush constituencies are not relaying any problems.

Polling so far in the Brentford and Isleworth constituency is reported to be brisk

May 5, 2005