Friday 31 October 2014

Adams red-faced after adopted county bars him from casting vote

Elaine Keogh and Michael Brennan

Published 10/12/2010 | 05:00

SINN Fein President Gerry Adams suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday after he failed in his first attempt to be added to the electoral register.

He went in person yesterday afternoon to give a declaration to the returning officer for Louth that he is now living in the county instead of his former base in Belfast.

This would have allowed him to vote in the constituency where he plans to run in the next general election in place of retiring Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan.

But Mr Adams' claim was struck down due to a lack of evidence that he was living in the Louth constituency on the dates required.

The revision court heard that a field officer had three times visited the address given by him and had not found him there.

Mr Adams said he was now living in Louth and would apply to be included on the 'supplementary register', which he will be able to do on February 1 next.

"I just wanted to vote for myself," he said.

Mr Adams attended the annual revision court in Dundalk yesterday, where decisions are made about applications from people wishing to be added to the electoral register.

Rural

His application listed him as a 'new constituent' seeking to be added to the register. He gave his address as Ballymakellett, Ravensdale, a very rural area of north Louth on the Cooley Peninsula about 15 minutes' drive from Dundalk.

But the Louth returning officer Mairead Ahern heard that a field officer had visited the address three times and not found him there. The field officer said there was no answer when he tried to phone the house but neighbours said Mr Adams was due to move in.

Ms Ahern disallowed the application. However, her decision was challenged by Sinn Fein councillor Thomas Sharkey, who alleged she had been inconsistent.

This was because she had allowed Louth Senator Mark Dearey (Green Party) to change his address from Dundalk town to Omeath. He is already on the register.

Mr Adams arrived into the court, which was held in the chamber of Louth County Council, just before 5pm yesterday. He presented Ms Ahern with a letter which it is believed was a declaration that he is now residing in Louth.

He explained that he understood the final date for making the application was November 25 and he had done so after he declared his intention to stand in the next general election.

However, Ms Ahern said that in order to be included on the live register he would have had to be a resident of Louth on September 1.

He said he has now moved to Louth, and was told he is entitled to be put on the supplemental register.

Mr Adams also said the field officer who called to his Louth address ought to be commended because he had asked a neighbour where he was living and the house was pointed out to him.

Irish Independent

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