For­tune lam­basts run­ning of Gen­eral Elec­tion count

‘A CHILD’S BIRTH­DAY PARTY WOULD HAVE BEEN RUN BET­TER’

Bray People - - COUNCIL REPORT -

A SIX-YEAR-OLD CHILD'S birth­day party would have been bet­ter run that the Wick­low Gen­eral Elec­tion count ac­cord­ing to Cllr. Tom For­tune.

Dur­ing Mon­day's meet­ing of Wick­low County Coun­cil Cllr. Pat Vance looked for a sus­pen­sion of stand­ing or­ders to dis­cuss the ‘ to­tal lack of ex­pe­ri­ence and cohesion' dur­ing the count on Fe­bru­ary 26.

‘ This is noth­ing to do with the re­sult or any­thing like that' but he said that from talk­ing to peo­ple ‘ they are all ap­palled at the stan­dards'.

‘It took 13 hours for the first count re­sult when some counts were ac­tu­ally fin­ished. It seemed to be that the peo­ple be­hind the counter had ab­so­lutely no ex­pe­ri­ence or train­ing and some couldn't even show the bal­lot pa­pers to the peo­ple tallying. Some of the staff showed a to­tal lack of co­op­er­a­tion. There was a to­tal lack of ex­pe­ri­ence and cohesion and a to­tal lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the pub­lic.

‘I just feel that there should be a sys­tem for ev­ery count in the coun­try when it comes to com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Peo­ple hadn't a clue what was go­ing on. I'm just ask­ing that the rel­e­vant depart­ment, ei­ther En­vi­ron­ment or Jus­tice, to ap­point some­one to look into the sit­u­a­tion in Wick­low so that it never hap­pens again.

‘Re­ally and truly we need to call on the rel­e­vant depart­ment to look into what hap­pened in Wick­low so that we are not the laugh­ing stock of the whole coun­try.'

He was sup­ported by Cllr. John Snell who said ‘when peo­ple like Cllr. Vance who has been to a large num­ber of elec­tion counts raises con­cerns I think we should all lis­ten.'

He also con­demned the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at the count. ‘ There was a lack of in­for­ma­tion for the pub­lic and by and large the peo­ple in the pub­lic gallery didn't know what was hap­pen­ing. There was a very small num­ber of coun­ters who didn't seem to have a grasp on what they were do­ing.'

Cllr. Irene Win­ters said it ‘is very un­for­tu­nate that due to the re­cruit­ment em­bargo we don't have our own county reg­is­trar and I think if we had the staff would have been more ex­pe­ri­enced be­cause there would have been more con­tact’. Cllr. Ge­orge Jones said there had been an ‘in­or­di­nate de­lay and a lot of the time peo­ple were sitting down do­ing noth­ing'.

Cllr. John Byrne said when the Labour Party can­di­dates had handed in their nom­i­na­tion pa­pers they had been told that the count ‘could be car­ried out within a day'. How­ever, on count day he said ‘ the im­pres­sion I got was that a lot of peo­ple had never car­ried out a count be­fore’.

Cllr. Byrne said there was a wealth of ex­pe­ri­enced staff in the lo­cal authorities, many of which were not used. ‘In the lo­cal elec­tions ev­ery­thing was open and trans­par­ent and I didn't think that dur­ing this elec­tion. I was amazed when two or three can­di­dates were elim­i­nated to­gether and the re­sult given.'

Pro­vid­ing a lighter mo­ment Cllr. Nicky Kelly said, ‘I think it was Joseph Stalin who said it's not the peo­ple who vote that count but the peo­ple who count the votes!' He said the staff had ‘ been asked to per­form a mam­moth task in a highly emo­tive sit­u­a­tion'.

Cllr. Casey said ‘ the lack of in­for­ma­tion was very frus­trat­ing for peo­ple in the pub­lic gallery.

‘Once the 13rd count re­sults were an­nounced on Sun­day evening there were no more an­nounce­ments un­til 10pm the fol­low­ing night.

‘We pleaded and pleaded with her to an­nounce some­thing be­cause the crowd was get­ting rest­less and at one stage I had to plead with the pub­lic be­cause they were start­ing a slow clap and stamp­ing their feet.'

Cllr. Mick Glynn said as a tally man he felt ‘we were an in­con­ve­nience'. He said there was a great deal of me­thod­i­cal back end fil­ing by the staff that the pub­lic couldn't see.

He also said he felt that when the re­count was called on Sun­day evening count­ing should have con­tin­ued to help deal with the re­count ef­fi­ciently.

Cllr. Pat Fitzger­ald said, ‘ The pub­lic were to­tally be­mused by the lack of in­for­ma­tion. I think it is a farce. At lunch time on Mon­day other peo­ple ar­rived to give a help­ing hand but it's wa­ter un­der the bridge for me now.'

Cllr. Tom For­tune said, ‘I be­lieve quite pas­sion­ately that it was the worst or­gan­ised event I have seen in a long time. When peo­ple were told they were mak­ing mis­takes they didn't want to know. ‘A six-year-old chil­dren's birth­day party would have been bet­ter run,’ he said. ‘It be­came such a joke at the end that there could have been se­ri­ous trou­ble there.' Acting county man­ager Bryan Doyle said he would pass on the con­cerns of the mem­bers to the Depart­ment of Jus­tice.

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