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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Police praise for peaceful poll
Ballot box
Previous attacks happened as ballot boxes were removed
Polling in Londonderry has passed off peacefully for the first time in 30 years, the police have said.

Chief Superintendent Ricky Russell praised voters and organisers of the poll in the Foyle constituency.

He said the hard work of electoral staff, community workers, teachers, clergy and others had ensured the day passed off without incident.

In past elections, police had been attacked at some polling stations in nationalist areas of the city.

Chief Supt Russell said he looked forward to the pattern on Thursday night being repeated in the future.

Community worker Tony O'Doherty was among observers at the collection of ballot boxes from Holy Child Primary School in Creggan.

Integrity preserved

He said: "Voting is a civil procedure and that's the way it should be.

"There are hundreds of witnesses here, the integrity of the process is totally preserved. This is a good example of democracy."

Bystanders applauded as the ballot boxes were carried from the polling station.

Holy Child school principal Charlie O'Donnell, said the peaceful collection of boxes was the result of "the work of several years".

"The atmosphere was very different from last year's European elections.

"Last year at this time, everything was extremely tense.

"There was a group of hundreds of youths floating about at the end of the street.

"There were petrol bombs and paint bombs and bottles thrown," Mr O'Donnell said.

The Holy Child School had been taken off the list of polling centres after trouble last year.

But that decision was reversed after a local deal was reached to ensure ballot boxes would be removed by local community representatives.

Violence erupted last June as police escorted electoral officers and ballot boxes from some polling stations in Derry.

The police were attacked with petrol bombs for two consecutive nights at the close of polling in the European elections.

Trouble flared in the nationalist Creggan, Shantallow and Ballymagroarty areas of the city.





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