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Fine Gael poll topper criticises own party for 'poor' plebiscite campaign

The Fine Gael Director of Elections for the Mayoral Plebiscite in Limerick has hit back at criticism from a poll-topping colleague about the party’s handling of the matter.

Fine Gael councillor Jerome Scanlan who romped home in yesterday’s local elections in Newcastle West, accused his own party of a lackluster plebiscite campaign.

Speaking today at the Limerick Count Centre, where plebiscite votes were being counted today, Cllr Scanlon said “the issue of the mayoralty wasn’t explained to the electorate at all”.

He said it was “a poor reflection (on the party)”.

Cllr Scanlon also said he believed the electorate in the county had “an understanding of what this was all about” and were largely voting No.

However, having undertaken his own unofficial tally this afternoon he said parts of the city were “voting heavily” for a ‘yes’, perhaps as “they felt they were voting for a mayor rather than understanding the concept of a paid executive mayoral function”.

When pressed further for his personal view, Cllr Scanlan said he believed a directly elected mayor “could be okay”, but said he had voted against it “on the basis that we need better explanation of what the (mayor’s) functions are”.

We didn’t have any (plebiscite) presentations in the county. So, really, are we treated as second class citizens of the county?”

Scanlan claimed councillors were not briefed on the inner workings of what powers would be granted to a directly elected mayor.

“There was no presentation. We had 40 councillors, and not once was the issue of the mayor discussed with us. We didn’t have a presentation on it. That should have happened, basic stuff.”

“If you were flying to New York you’d plan your route before you left, to be very blunt about it. In this case it was neither planned nor presented to us.”

Hitting back, Fine Gael’s Director of Elections for the Plebiscite in Limerick, Senator Maria Byrne said she personally helped “deliver 45,000 leaflets within the city and county” and “held a number of of public meetings”.

Ms Byrne said councillors were invited to attend a presentation on the plebiscite in Adare.

She added that information booklets were also posted out to households.

“We did as much as we could,” she said.

Ms Byrne said she believed the votes were “very tight” in Limerick.

I’d be very hopeful, but it’s very hard to know.

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