Sunday 17 December 2017

Borough councillors' last stand over election count

Alison Comyn

THE MAYOR of Drogheda is to seek an emergency meeting with the Louth County Council returning officer in an attempt to reverse the decision to hold the local election count in Dundalk.

It was decided at the historic final meeting of Drogheda Borough Council that Cllr. Richie Culhane should speak, on behalf of the members, of the outrage at the shock decision.

Letters of confirmation were sent last Friday to members that the vote count for the Drogheda, Ardee and Dundalk areas would be held in one location – the Redeemer Centre, Dundalk.

There is also concern that this is an indication of things to come with the new Drogheda Municipal Council, based in Dundalk.

'Our local authority is being reformed, not being made extinct,' said Cllr. Paul Bell, tabling the motion to seek the count to be held in a suitable facility in the Drogheda area.

'Holding the count in Dundalk makes it not only difficult for those in an official capacity to attend, but also the voters, whose right it is to see the democratic process take place and might have to rely on public transport. It is in a housing estate, which we would have no right to disrupt, and has very limited parking spaces, so I cannot understand why it can't be held in DIFE as in 2009, which ticked all the boxes.'

Town Clerk Joan Martin said she had spoken to Frank Pentony, Louth County Council returning officer, and he has made his decision, and is not likely to change his mind.

Cllr Kevin Callan quoted the statute regarding count centres, saying the location should be 'within the voting area or convenient to the area'.

'The centre in Dundalk may be convenient to those operating the count, but not to those in the election,' he said.

'It is essential the count takes place here,' added Cllr. Frank Maher. 'It would be a wise decision for him [the returning officer] to revisit and reverse this decision.'

Cllr. Imelda Munster said she would be more concerned that services are being removed.

'However, this decision comes at a sensitive time in our history, and indicates the thinking surrounding issues which directly affects Drogheda,' she said.

Drogheda Independent

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