Any new recall petition to unseat DUP MP Ian Paisley must learn the lessons of the last one by ensuring the electorate has the opportunity to have their say, Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has said.
The North Antrim MLA was commenting after writing to the Chief Electoral Officer amid speculation that a second recall petition could result from the latest media allegations against Ian Paisley.
Philip McGuigan said:
“In the aftermath of the latest media revelations regarding the North Antrim MP’s links to the Maldives government, we could well see another recall petition taking place in the constituency.
“Sinn Féin raised serious concerns during the last recall petition – particularly regarding the lack of accessibility for the electorate due to the restricted opening times and the decision to open only three signing centres.
“The lack of an effective public awareness campaign was also an issue which had a significant impact on the outcome of the petition.
“All of this was in stark contrast to two subsequent recall petitions which took place in England with at least double the number of signing centres as we had in North Antrim and much more generous opening times. Unsurprisingly, both these petitions had successful outcomes.
“These lessons must be learned and I have written to the Chief Electoral Officer requesting that in the event of a new recall petition in North Antrim, 10 signing centres should be established with early and late opening times.
“The Electoral Office have a responsibility to facilitate the electorate to exercise their democratic right to vote in elections and to sign a recall petition.”