Northern Ireland news

Election candidate stops off at a polling station to cast vote before tying the knot

Alliance candidate for West Belfast Sorcha Eastwood casts her vote with her husband, Dale Shirlow, at a polling station in Lisburn Picture Brian Lawless/PA
By David Young, Press Association

A Westminster candidate who got married on election day interrupted her wedding celebrations to cast her vote.

Sorcha Eastwood and new husband Dale Shirlow stopped off at a polling station in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, after tying the knot at a nearby church.

The inconvenient timing of the snap poll was not about to stop the young couple marking their ballots before joining guests at their reception.

"It's been a lot to do and a lot to take in but my family have been absolutely fantastic and my husband Dale has been absolutely fantastic and so supportive throughout the whole process," the Alliance Party candidate for West Belfast said.

"I hope it sends a strong signal to women out there that they can do it, they can get involved in politics."

If canvassing for votes was not enough of a distraction, the bride-to-be's plans were almost derailed entirely at the weekend when she was bitten by a dog on the campaign trail, resulting in a two-day stay in hospital.

"That really hampered the wedding preparations," she said.

The couple brought their photographer along to the voting centre and posed for an unusual set of wedding day pictures beside the polling station signs.

Groom Mr Shirlow said he had a feeling their big day might clash with an election.

"I actually predicted it," he said.

"A few months ago I said 'I bet you any luck we'll have an election on the day of our wedding'."

While the newlyweds took time out to vote, they said attending the overnight election count in Belfast would be a step too far.

"We are going to give that a miss," said Ms Eastwood, who instead made preparations to keep in touch with the results during the reception.

"We are going to get a big-screen TV and watch the results come in and hopefully it will be a long night."

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