Fine Gael Cllr Garry Murtagh
Longford County Council have adopted a new Polling Scheme that will determine where people vote in the next election. Barbara Heslin, Director of Services for Community and Enterprise, sought to have the local authority adopt the Draft Polling Scheme 2022 following a period of Public Consultation.
The local authority prepared the Draft Polling Scheme for the purpose of Elections and Referenda in accordance with the legislative provisions.
Ms Heslin pointed out that a presentation on proposed changes were brought to the three Municipal Districts last May. She said all feedback was considered, adding that none of the items raised at the meetings impacted on the draft Polling Scheme. There were no submissions from the public during the public consultation phase of the process. Ms Heslin asked the members to adopt the draft polling scheme as published.
The Draft Polling Scheme divides the County into Polling Districts and appoints a Polling Place for each Polling District, for the purposes of elections and referenda.
Last month the council published its Draft Polling Scheme and invited views and submissions. Amongst those consulted were the Dáil Returning Officer, county councillors in Longford and members of Dáil Eireann in the Longford Westmeath constituency.
The Draft Polling Scheme listed all polling places within the county proposed for use at elections and referenda and details the townlands assigned to vote at each polling place. A polling place is an area within a polling district in which a polling station is situated.
Cllr Garry Murtagh (FG) queried the decision to move the townland of Drumhaldry in the Granard MD to a different polling station in Moyne. He proposed that the change not be made.
Ms Heslin said the move was to streamline the process, pointing out that there were no submissions by local residents on the issue during the public consultation process.
Cllr Murtagh's counter proposal that the Draft Polling Scheme 2022 be adopted with no change to the status of Drumhaldry was seconded by Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG). Ms Heslin pointed out that all comments and submissions were considered by the elected members prior to making of the Polling Scheme, as a reserved function of the council. She said the consultation phase was an opportunity for citizens to have a say and input into the Polling Scheme for Longford, and no submissions were received.
Cllr Paul Ross said it was unusual there was no submission form anyone in the county on the Draft Polling Scheme: “Is that normal? Or is it, as Garry was saying, that the people in Drumhaldry didn't realise they were moving to a different area? I know when Ballycloghan was moved to Ardagh people were outraged, some people have not voted since.”
Ms Heslin replied: “The draft scheme was circulated and available from Friday June 3, 2022. Submissions were invited up to July 8. That's a five week period. We notified councillors about the commencement of the Public Consultation, we had an advertisement in the Longford Leader, we had it on the council website and on social media, as well as the PPN. There was quite a considerable amount of publicity associated with it.”
The council adopted the Polling Scheme subject to Cllr Murtagh's proposed changes. The published polling scheme will be effective from February 15, 2023 or the date of the coming into effect of the rolling register, whichever is the soonest.
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