ALMOST 1,600 people went to Scoil na mBuachaillí to cast their votes in the Clonakilty mayoral election – the only one of its kind in the country. With around 40 volunteers manning the seven polling booths from 9am to 7pm, a steady stream of people attended throughout the day.
Ten candidates, which included just one of the outgoing members of the Clonakilty Mayoral Council, were on the ballot paper. The count was held at The Venue Nightclub, and was a hive of activity, excitement and anticipation for a few hours as the five successful candidates were elected over six counts.
Jerome JC O’Sullivan, returning officer, ensured that everything was done by the book and the democratic process. Four volunteer counters counted the ballot papers and a trend soon emerged.
With the place buzzing with most of the candidates and their families in the room, Jerome announced that the quota was 258. There was a huge cheer when he announced at the first count that Michael O’Neill, with 431 first preference votes, had topped the poll and was elected convincingly.
Pádraig O’ Reilly was just five short of the quota and was comfortably elected on Count 2, having received 44 of O’Neill’s surplus of 173. With the lowest candidates beginning to be eliminated in the next few counts, it was count six before the remaining three positions were filled by Anthony McDermott, Paddy McCarthy and Chris Hinchy, the latter being elected without reaching the quota.
All thanked the Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage Mayoral Sub Committee who organised and ran the whole election process and count in a totally voluntary capacity and thanked their families and friends and all who had voted for them.
Tributes were paid too to the unsuccessful candidates who allowed their names on the ballot paper – Eddie Hawkins, John O’Carroll, Annie Tanner, Richy Virahsawmy and James White. Clonakilty can be proud to be the only community in Ireland whereby the people go out every five years to elect five people from their community to hold the position of ‘Mayor of Clonakilty’ for one year each in the rotation of how they’re elected.