General election count location dispute erupts in Kerry

A dispute has erupted in Kerry about the location of the general election count — even before the date of a poll has been fixed.

General election count location dispute erupts in Kerry

Sports arenas are not suitable as count centres and alternative venues such as hotels, where hot food could be served, would be preferable, a meeting of Kerry County Council heard.

Tralee councillors insisted the count should be held in the county town.

However the county registrar is insisting it will be in the most suitable venue, and Tralee’s status will not be the chief consideration.

A practice has emerged in Kerry, in recent counts, of avoiding hotels and opting instead for sports centres.

However, some are not suitable due to being too far from hot food outlets, and parking is also a problem, councillors claimed.

Kerry County Registrar Padraig Burke, responsible for organising facilities for general elections and European polls and counts, sought a response from the county council. He had assessed a number of likely locations and advised there were just a few venues suitable for such a large count.

The venue will not necessarily be in Tralee, it was indicated, as the town was not in the centre of the county.

“We are a county constituency now, and any place suitable will be considered. Access and parking as well as catering are considerations,” said Mr Burke.

The Killarney Aura Sports and Leisure Centre, where the last South Kerry counts had been held was “great for swimming” but was sorely inadequate as a count centre, said councillor Johnny Healy-Rae. Located on the Killarney bypass, it offered mostly chocolate bars and, for a good part of the day during the May 2014 local election and European counts, there was “no milk for the tea”, he said.

Listowel-based councillor Robert Beasley said he was very disappointed a count on February 10 for the 2014 Listowel local area poll was being held in Tralee, in the John Mitchels GAA club house, also on a bypass. A Killarney hotel had offered facilities free, he said.

“We were disappointed with the Mitchels in 2014. Sandwiches and coffee are not enough and hot food was needed. To us, the Mitchels was never a success.”

Meanwhile, Tralee Sinn Féin councillor Pa Daly said he would push for the general election count to be held in the county capital.

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