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Fancy that, ballot papers go missing . . . in Mountjoy Prison

AN ELECTION result has been binned after ballot papers were stolen.

The independent returning officer ruled that the election for the post of national vice president of the Prison Officers Association was null and void after the papers disappeared.

Prison sources told the Herald today that there is no trace of up to 250 unused ballot papers which should have been checked by the returning officer.

Kieran Montgomery of accountancy firm Howlin and O'Rourke ordered a new election after repeated searches failed to locate the missing ballots. The election had been going on for four weeks at institutions throughout the country since the beginning of last month and concluded last week.

Candidates for the post of vice president, with a seat on the national executive, came from Cork, Limerick, the Midlands, Wheatfield and Mountjoy prisons as well as St Patrick's Institution.


The vice president would be a part-time association official seconded to the POA offices as required with the permission of prison management.

But the job remains vacant as a new round of elections gets under way this month.

"The unused ballot papers have to be returned to show that all papers, used, spoiled or otherwise, are accounted for," said a source.

"The fact that some 250 papers from Mountjoy could not be found created all sorts of problems and the independent returning officer could not validate the whole exercise."

It is understood that one candidate had a majority of around 50 over his nearest rival but all candidates will have to go through the process again.

The ballot papers are believed to have been stored in the POA's offices at Mountjoy jail.

"They have searched everywhere but there is still no trace of them," said a local officer.

"There are a lot of jokes going around that there might be a thief in the jail."