Northern Ireland news

Majority of newly registered voters from unionist areas

Record numbers of people in Northern Ireland have signed up to the electoral register.

A VAST majority of new applicants to the electoral register in key Belfast battleground constituencies are believed to be from mainly unionist areas.

More than 1.25m people in Northern Ireland are eligible to vote in Thursday's general election, according to the Electoral Office.

The total eligible electorate is 1,293,971, an increase of 51,273 since the 2017 Westminster election.

While there has been a rise in the number of eligible voters in each of the 18 constituencies, the largest number of new voters are in areas where there is likely to be a close contest between rival parties.

There are 4,022 extra voters on the register in Foyle, where Sinn Féin is coming under pressure from the SDLP to hold onto the seat.

Sinn Féin won the long standing SDLP seat by just 169 votes in 2017.

The battle between the two parties is expected to be one of the closest of tomorrow's poll.

The battle between John Finucane and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds in North Belfast has proven controversial, with the SDLP standing aside to maximise Sinn Féin's vote.

In one of the most toxic contests, controversial banners attacking the Sinn Féin candidate and his family have appeared across the city.

An extra 3,976 voters have joined the electoral register in North Belfast. Sources have indicated that the majority of those have been in traditionally unionist areas.

Voter registrations had been taking place to coincide with meetings organised by loyalists, angry at a potential sea border if Boris Johnson gets his Brexit deal through Westminster.

In South Belfast an additional 3,879 have joined the electoral register since 2017.

More than half of those are believed to be from traditionally loyalist areas of the constituency, where the previous DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly is expected to lose her seat to the SDLP's Claire Hanna.

The smallest growth was in North Antrim, where 1,477 were added to the register.

Last month the Electoral Office said it had processed more than 235,000 applications from members of the public seeking to be placed on the register since the start of 2019.

The office said it had received 72,500 applications in the past three weeks alone.

The disparity in the figures, is partly attributed to the 34,000 people who could vote in the European election but are not eligible to vote in the Westminster contest.

Citizens of other EU countries living in the United Kingdom can vote in council, assembly and EU elections but not in General Elections.

Other factors may include duplicate applications from people unaware they were already on the register.

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Northern Ireland news