Wednesday 18 October 2017

Island voters get polling box

Lambay's electorate of three can cast mayor ballot at home

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley is to allow voting for the Dublin mayor to take place on an island off the capital's coast -- even though the three islanders registered usually come to the mainland to vote.

The only inhabited island off Dublin is Lambay, which falls into the Dublin North constituency.

Fingal County Council last night said that there were three people registered to vote on Lambay -- which is also home to wallabies exiled from Dublin Zoo -- and added that their polling station was the primary school in the nearby mainland village of Rush.

But a provision in the legislation for the directly elected mayor, which was published yesterday, has a section entitled 'polling on the islands', which says relevant regulations "have effect in relation to the taking of a poll at a mayoral election at a polling station situated on an island".

It doesn't mean voting will happen on the island first time around, only that the legislation allows for it if people demand, the spokesman added. But Lambay residents last night said they may take Mr Gormley up on his offer.

Lambay is privately owned by the Baring family, the famous English banking dynasty which carries the Revelstoke title. Upon the death of the fourth Baron Revelstoke, Rupert Baring, in 1994, the island passed to his niece, Margaret Kelly.

Ms Kelly, who votes in a different Dublin constituency, said she would welcome a polling station on the island.

"We have raised the issue of postal voting before," she said last night. "We have to go back into Dublin to vote. The mainland don't think of us much."

The island is only accessible by prior permission. It is an important wildlife sanctuary and archaeological site and even has a number of wallabies descended from some exiled from Dublin Zoo because of overcrowding in the 1980s.

Transport

The zoo also gave the island wallabies back in the 1950s. Supplies are brought by boat to the island from Rush, and it is likely that putting a polling station on the island would cost a couple of thousand euro.

Transport for the ballot box would have to be arranged, along with a garda to accompany it and electoral officials.

Ms Kelly said there were more than three people living on the island, but claimed they were not all registered to vote.

Although she would not give an exact number of inhabitants, local sources said around five people live there during the winter months, which could rise to 60 in the summer when Baron Revelstoke's family arrived to spend time.

Mr Gormley hopes to have the mayoral legislation passed by Christmas, and intends to hold the election in the spring on the same day as the three outstanding by-elections in Dublin South, Waterford and Donegal South-West.

Fine Gael's environment spokesman Phil Hogan said the post would cost €8m and would lead to increased taxes.

"Under this legislation, it looks like tax hikes are on the way for Dublin people to pay for the Green Party's plan," he said.

Irish Independent

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