CATHOLIC voters at a South Belfast polling station were forced to cast their votes yesterday in a room “decked out like an Orange hall”.

And one man who voted in the assembly hall of Blythefield Primary School said he felt like he was walking “a gauntlet of fear” to exercise his franchise surrounded by union flags. 

He told us he felt like turning on his heels and leaving the polling station when he first entered the room.

The taking of pictures inside a polling centre contravenes Electoral Office rules, but the voter who contacted us said he took the photograph because he feels the display interfered with his right to vote free from intimidation.

“To say I felt uneasy and intimidated would be an understatement,” said the man, who asked not to be named. “I was about to leave in disgust but then realised that would only serve the interests of the flag brigade.

"So I marched right in and demanded my vote but you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. There is no way any polling station should be allowed to be decked out like an Orange hall, or indeed like a Sinn Féin rally.”

The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland has been contacted for a comment.

Following our live electoral coverage from Belfast City Hall here and here.