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Arlene Foster's private room not approved by election officials

DUP leader Arlene Foster at the election count in Omagh Leisure Centre
Brendan Hughes

ARLENE Foster's use of a private room during the assembly election count had not been approved by electoral officials, it has emerged.

Amid the election results a fortnight ago, questions were raised about the DUP leader and party colleagues occupying a room at Omagh leisure centre.

Two security men guarded the door of the conference room and window blinds were drawn.

At the time the SDLP's Mary Garrity, chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, hit out at the "special treatment" not enjoyed by other election candidates.

"It is not appropriate, it is not necessary. We have MPs from other parties, former MLAs from other parties, dignitaries coming in and they aren't being given special treatment and no one should be," she said.

When asked about the arrangement, the council said it was an issue for the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI).

"This is a matter for EONI who were in control of Omagh Leisure Complex on March 3 2017," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the EONI said: "The Electoral Office for Northern Ireland do not provide rooms for candidates at count venues."

Mrs Foster largely maintained a visible distance from the media during the election count for her constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

The snap election, which was called amid the RHI scandal, saw the DUP returned as the largest party at Stormont but with its number of seats reduced from 38 to 28, just one ahead of Sinn Féin.

The DUP last night did not respond to requests for a comment.

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