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Galway County Registrar asked to change locations of polling stations


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway County Registrar asked to change locations of polling stations Galway County Registrar asked to change locations of polling stations

The Labour Party in Galway West has recommended changes to the location of city polling stations in the 2024 European and local elections to make it more convenient for the electorate to vote.

Chair of the party’s City Centre branch, Andrew Ó Baoill, has written to County Registrar, Marian Chambers Higgins, with several suggestions about polling stations for the elections due to be held in May or June.

“In a city like Galway, it should be possible to ensure that a preponderance of voters live within a one kilometre walk of a polling station, without an increase in the overall number of polling stations required,” Mr Ó Baoill said in his letter, seen by the Galway City Tribune.

He said voters in Knocknacarra used to vote at Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh on Cappagh Road, but when that moved to Millars Lane, the polling station also moved, rather than remaining at what is now the Knocknacarra Educate Together building.

“It is almost a three kilometres walk from Cappagh Park to Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh, making a round trip of over an hour for any voters seeking to walk that distance,” he said.

He recommended Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh be retained as a polling station for the area bounded by Clybaun Road, Letteragh Road, Western Distributor Road, and Bishop O’Donnell Road, and suggested a polling station should be added to service voters on the western side of Knocknacarra, serving west of Clybaun Road.

He said polling stations should be convenient for voters to walk to.

“In general, and particularly within urban settings, locating polling stations in areas that maximise opportunities for walking and other forms of active travel by those voters allocated to each station. This will minimise car parking requirements, ensuring that those with mobility issues, are able to find accessible parking even during busier periods,” he said.

Rather than choosing schools, he suggested City Council properties should be used where possible.

“The Knocknacarra Community Centre on Cappagh Road, the Renmore Community Centre, and Ballinfoile Community Centre are all close to existing or previous polling locations,” Mr Ó Baoill said.

The letter sent to Ms Chambers Higgins in December was supported by Labour representatives across the city.

Councillor Niall McNelis in City West said in 2019, voters in the western end of Knocknacarra had to travel to Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh, near Gateway Shopping Park, while voters near the Gaelscoil voted at Scoil Éinde on Dr Mannix Road.

“In an urban area like ours, most voters should be able to walk to their local polling station, freeing up parking for those who need it. That is not possible with our existing polling scheme,” he said.

Helen Ogbu, the party’s candidate in the City East, also recommended changes.

“We need to ensure voters are travelling to the polling station most convenient to them. For example, voters in Rosshill currently need to vote in Scoil Chaitríona in Renmore. They should instead vote in the Doughiska polling station, which is closer and more convenient for them,” she said.

John McDonagh, a former election candidate in City Central, said locating polling stations in schools was disruptive for parents and children and community centres and libraries should be looked at.

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