25th May announced as Mayoral Election Day in Clonakilty
PHOTO: The Clonakilty Mayoral Election was announced for Saturday 25th May and nominations declared open until 8th May, at a function at O’ Donovan’s Hotel recently by Mayor Gretta O’ Donovan (seated centre) and her fellow Mayoral Council colleagues from left: Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin; Colette Twomey; John Loughnan and Anthony McDermott, and the Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage Mayoral Election Sub Committee (standing), who will organise the event. From left: Traolach Ó Donnabháin, Tomás Tuipéar and Jerome JC O’ Sullivan. (Photo: Kathryn O’ Shea, Photography).
In May 2014, all 80 town councils in the state were abolished, most having existed for several centuries. With the abolition of these local tiers of democracy, also went the position of Mayors of those respective towns. While there were protests in some communities - including Clonakilty, at the loss of the local councils, the abolitions proceeded. However, in Clonakilty, where the council and position of Town Mayor were both generally well-respected (having been established in 1605), local historical group, Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage declared at it’s AGM that while they could not fight the government decision of abolition, the position of Mayor of Clonakilty – even in an honorary, non-statutory role should continue.
A special sub-committee of the community group went on to organise a special and unique election in May 2014 in which the people of the town and surrounding areas (comprising of the original borough of Clonakilty), were eligible to vote to select five non-political, community-based, voluntary candidates, each of which would have the honour of being “Mayor of Clonakilty” for one year each over the following five years.
Eight people were duly nominated and stood as community, non-political candidates in the election, which was run in an identical fashion and following the same rules as the statutory County Council and European Union elections held on the previous day. Almost 1,600 voters turned out in what was the only time ever (and since!), in the history of the 32 counties of Ireland that citizens were able to democratically choose their local Mayors - and the order in which the five would hold the position.
Since then, Colette Twomey, Cionnaith Ó Súilleabháin, Anthony McDermott, John M. Loughnan and Gretta O’ Donovan have represented the people of Clonakilty as Mayor in their respective years, attending hundreds of local events and activities to which they have been invited. It is all totally voluntary with no expenses for anyone, but a huge honour for those involved. The Mayors have represented the town and its people in welcoming dignitaries such as the President of Ireland and Clonakilty's twinning partners from Waldaschaff in Bavaria when they visited the town; welcomed home local achievers and accompanied the Tidy Towns to the annual National Awards.
As a group, (the five mayors known as “The Mayoral Council”), have honoured around 80 groups and individuals at twice-yearly “Mayoral Awards” community-orientated evenings over the last five years.
Now, as the inaugural term comes to an end, an election in which the people will once again select who they wish to see as their five non-political, community, voluntary Mayors from June 2019 – May 2024 will take place on Saturday 25th May at Scoil na mBuachaillí.
Once again, Clonakilty will be the only community in the whole 32 counties to organise such an event and thereby being able to claim to be the only community in the whole of Ireland with a “Town Mayor”.
The election date was announced and nominations declared open recently by the current Mayor Gretta O’ Donovan at a special event held at O’ Donovan’s Hotel in the presence of her four colleagues and the Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage Mayoral Election Sub-Committee, which will organise and oversee the election just like five years ago.
Nominations must be made on the official Nomination Papers which are now available at Reception of O’ Donovan’s Hotel but must be lodged on or before 8pm on 8th May 2019.
All five outgoing members of the Mayoral Council and the Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage sub-committee which is once again organising all aspects of the Mayoral Election, are encouraging community-orientated people to nominate themselves or other like-minded people to stand in the 25th May election.
In the 2014 election, one candidate who received 175 first preference votes was elected and it is envisaged that this approximate figure will secure seats again in 2019.
Enquires about the election, nominating process and any other aspect can be had from 086-0833323.
There will also be a public information meeting at O’ Donovan’s Hotel at 8pm on Wednesday 24th April where everyone in the community interested in the election and role of Mayor of Clonakilty is encouraged to attend.
See the Clonakilty Mayoral Council Facebook page for further updates.