The SDLP’s John Dallat has hit out at Royal Mail regarding postal election material for the candidate in East Derry, claiming the party was forced to use the wording ‘East Londonderry’ when other parties were not.
Mr Dallat, the election agent for the SDLP candidate Gerry Mullan in East Derry, has accused Royal Mail of “inconsistencies when approving ‘art work’ for election communications”.
Mr. Dallat said: “For the second time in this election the SDLP has had difficulties, first with the Chief Electoral Office and now with Royal Mail over the vexed issue of Derry or Londonderry.
“We submitted, as required by law a draft of our postal communication with ‘East Derry’ on it only to be told that we would have to include ‘the full title of the constituency’.
“With the party being right up against the deadline and no time to seek a judicial review we reluctantly instructed our printers to make the amendment demanded by Royal Mail fearing our political message wouldn’t be delivered. We now discover that Royal Mail hasn’t been consistent with only the SDLP being denied the right to use ‘Derry’ in their election communications and I need to know why we have been discriminated against in this shameful way.
“Royal Mail have now apologised and claimed that there are lessons to be learned which is totally unacceptable to me as election agent and to our candidate Gerry Mullan.”
The SDLP candidate, Gerry Mullan, said he was “shocked to discover other political parties in the forthcoming Westminster election had delivered by Royal Mail their postal election communications without having to comply with the same specification as we had to”.
“I find it peculiar that we were forced to abide by a very strict directive, which clearly has not been applied to others,” said Mr Mullan.
Mr Dallat added: “This issue needs to be cleared up once and for all with a clear understanding that ‘Derry’ is recognised and accepted by all including the Electoral Office, Royal Mail, The Northern Ireland Assembly which is still insisting that Londonderry is used in all correspondence relating to members questions.
“Given our recent experience it may be time to question why the term ‘Royal’ is still used by Royal Mail who denied us the right to use Derry given that they are now a commercial organisation with no links with the British Royal Family.”