Northern Ireland news

December Assembly election will cost close to £7m

Ballot counters in Belfast after the last Assembly election in May. Picture by Kirth Ferris/Pacemker Press
Allan Preston

A December Assembly election will cost Northern Ireland voters around an extra £7m, the Electoral Office has said.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Electoral Officer, Virginia McVea told the Irish News the last election in May had basic costs of around £4.5 to 4.8m for staffing and printing poll cards.

Approximately £2.3m was also spent supplementing mailing material for around 239 candidates. This expense is also likely to rise as Royal Mail are now set to increase costs in November.

If the December election does materialise, voters will also have paid over £3m in MLA salaries in exchange for eight months of Stormont limbo.

This figure does not include an even larger sum for staffing, office costs and expenses.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “We cannot comment on any speculation regarding a December election, however if an election were to be called we remain ready to respond and support delivery.”

This week, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said he would be legally obliged to call a fresh election by midnight next Friday if the Stormont deadlock continues.

The DUP have refused to form an Executive or nominate an Assembly Speaker in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol arrangements.

 

Northern Ireland news