With one election just completed the appetite for voting has obviously increased with a row erupting in Donegal Town over who is entitled to vote in the upcoming election for Mayor of the town with candidates themselves disagreeing on the criteria.
Tom Conaghan who was narrowly defeated in the Local Elections in 2009 and is a candidate for the position said. “This statement which refers people to the Donegal Town website shows the pure arrogance of the Community Chamber who have refused to answer the issues raised by the public in the local media. It was simply a bland statement which confirmed the status quo and is an insult to the people of Donegal Town and its environs.
“This is a body which purports to represent the people of Donegal Town but could only succeed in attracting less than ten people to their recent AGM. Is this representative of the people of Donegal?
“This matter is far from over and I think it is high time that we had an indepth look into the organisation.”
Many business persons in the town feel that they have been disenfranchised simply because they live outside the boundaries set by the Community Chamber.
Eugene Gallen who owns the Eurosaver shop on Quay St. told the Donegal Democrat, “I feel that it is only right that business people in this town have the right to vote in this election - I fully realise that this is only an honorary position and carries no legislative powers but at the end of the day, the mayor is the person who will be representing us.
“We pay our rates which are substantial, provide valuable employment and donate to the various festivals and charitable causes in the town yet we are being denied a simple civil right.
“I realise that this can be overcome if one becomes a member of the Community Chamber at a cost of over €100. It is not a money issue for me personally but I do not think this should be a pre - condition. I am not a man for meetings - I just want to get on with my job.
“The brief statement issued on Ocean FM by the Community Chamber on Wednesday morning just clarifies the status quo.”
Mr. Gallen’s feelings were echoed by the majority of business people in the town who felt it was a ridiculous situation and was making a “laughing stock of the town.”
The outgoing Mayor of Donegal Town, Paul Keeney who is also a candidate told this newspaper said he agreed that the business people of the town should be allowed to vote.
“I think that the present controversy is an actual vote of confidence in the office of the Mayor in that so many people have shown an interest in voting in this election.
“Donegal Town is one of the few towns in the country that actually has a democratic election and it is a tribute to the office that so many people are becoming engaged.
“If business people in the town and its environs feel that the Mayor adequately works, represents and promotes the town then they should be allowed vote.
“At the end of the day this will be a decision for the people of the town.”
Patricia Callaghan who has been active in the community for years and also a candidate for the position said, “I am presently up to my eyes out canvassing and trying to get some votes and at the moment would prefer not to comment on the situation.
“However, I will get an opportunity to have a look at the overall position over the next few days and then perhaps, I will be in a better position to make an informed comment.”