Outrage over Paisley letter to ‘non-voters’

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North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has come in for criticism from some of his constituents who didn’t vote at this year’s local Government and European Parliament elections.

A letter sent to the ‘non-voters’ contained an appeal urging them to return to the polling booths in the forthcoming elections in 2015 and 2016.

There is no suggestion that Mr Paisley has done anything wrong; indeed the letter stresses the MPs desire to engage with voters directly about matters that concern them and “matters that will help motivate you to vote.”

The letter states: “I notice that you did not vote at this year’s local government and European Parliament elections and as we approach two more years of elections in 2015 and 2016 I want to do all that I can to engage with you and encourage you to vote.

“If you require a postal vote in advance of the elections or if you require new voter identification material or assistance getting to the polling station I am more than happy to help facilitate such arrangements.”

The letter also goes on to say how Mr Paisley is aware of the needs of the community with many struggling in the aftermath of the recession, cost of living, fuel costs, housing and benefit demands which all pose significant pressure for many in the community.

He also goes on to detail the support given to local employers, investment and efforts that have seen unemployment fall locally.

He says he is aware that much more needs to be done and only by voting people will be able to say that they spoke up to support those who best represent the values they believe in.

However, not everyone was pleased to receive the letter.

One constituent who did not wish to be named claimed it amounted to an invasion of privacy and that if they decided not to vote it was no one’s business.

“People might not vote on religious grounds or as a matter of conscience. No one should be trawling the electoral register no matter how well intentioned it might be,” they said.

At the end of the letter Mr Paisley encourages voters to provide him with feedback on the issues raised.

At the time of going to press no response had been received from Mr Paisley.