Monaghan 5050 Group Helping To Clear Up Local Election Confusion
The Key Figures Relating to Upcoming Local Elections….
Election Date: 23rd May 2014
No. of Seats Up For Grabs: 18 (down from 66)
Electoral Areas: 3 (down from 4)
Women County Councillors: currently 2 (7 women selected to run so far)
Last Saturday 5th April, women candidates for the local elections and women of all
ages from around the county attended the first Monaghan 5050 Group meeting of the
year to talk about the issues affecting their local communities, women’s role in
public life and the upcoming local elections. The event was hosted and organised
by Monaghan 5050 Group, a voluntary organisation based in Monaghan town, affiliated
to the 5050 Group nationwide.
Local election candidates Councillor Cathy Bennett SF, Councillor Ciara McPhillips
FG, Councillor Deirdre Kelly FF, former TD Margaret Conlon FF and first time candidate
Siobhan Cheung SF were joined by women from all over the county.
Chairperson of Monaghan 5050 Group, Fiona McCaffrey Jones, welcomed everyone to the
event and explained that “The 5050 Group is campaigning to encourage and support
more women in politics and public life. The new gender quota legislation, which will
ensure more women candidates, does not take effect until the 2016 general election.
However the impact of the legislation is beginning to be felt. Across the country
so far, almost 25% of all local election candidates are women; this compares with
17% five years ago in 2009.
The 5050 Group plans to observe the progress of the local elections as political
parties and independents gear up for the campaign trail and the elections in May
and to encourage and support the election of women”.
“The aim of this meeting is to celebrate and support the women candidates selected
so far, to inform people about the changes to local government and of the importance
of using their vote and, crucially, to allow women at grassroots level in their communities
to share their issues with the candidates”, explained Ms McCaffrey Jones.
Local Government Reform & Local Elections Gretta McCarron, from Monaghan 5050 Group,
outlined local government reform which is expected to be completed by 1st July 2014.
Thanks to Monaghan Community Forum for this concise outline of the changes.
All 5 town councils are going, there will only be a County Council from now on
There will be 3 municipal areas rather than 4 electoral areas
In the current County Council and 5 town councils in Co Monaghan there is a total
of 66 seats, however, there are only 18 seats in total up for grabs in the local
elections on 23rd May as the town councils have been abolished as part of local government
There will be a Public Participation Network in each municipal area, to enable the
public and community sector to have its say in the operation of the County Council
County Council will have control of the Local Property Tax (LPT), and will have the
power to raise or lower this, just as they do at present with commercial rates
County Council will have to fund its activities from the funds raised through the
LPT, so a balance will have to be struck between the level of service it provides
and the level of tax it sets
Hard choices will have to be made between providing amenities like playgrounds on
the one side and keeping taxes low for individual households on the other
A new Local & Community Development Committee (LCDC) is being set up, replacing the
County Development Board
The LCDP will be charged with preparing a Community & Economic Development Plan
All funding coming in to the county in future will have to be linked to this Plan
Doorstep Issues & Grassroots Issues The issues the candidates come across on the doorsteps
can be broadly broken down into local and national. Local issues include potholes,
planning permission for pathways, security for elderly people and commercial rates.
National issues include LPT, water rates, the unfairness of the SUSI grant system,
inadequate broadband throughout the county, the need to create jobs, mortgage arrears
and the withdrawl of medical cards from the over 70s. Some of the issues raised by
women at the meeting included the following:
the County Council’s proposal to apply commercial rates to childcare centres. This
was seen as an anti-woman measure
people who can only afford to pay LPT on a weekly basis are charged €1 for every
transaction, which is an extra €52 a year for people who can ill afford it
middle income families are hardest hit
mortgage arrears/general debt
issues with getting on register of electors
Finance Briefing Elaine Clerkin from Fix-Your-Finance, briefed the candidates on the
type of issues she deals with on a daily basis. Ms Clerkin is a Qualified Financial
Advisor who had been working with people in mortgage arrears and debt for the past
2 years. In her experience the new insolvency service and bankruptcy has had little
affect on ordinary people due to the high costs associated with each of these procedures.
Ms Clerkin also explained that mortgage banks are more willing to offer debt restructure
arrangements to people in mortgage arrears than other financial institutions, including
credit unions, which surprised most people at the meeting. She reminded the candidates
to advise people that whereas MABS was established to assist people whose total debt
was under €20,000, they should seek the assistance of a registered Qualified Financial
Advisor or mortgage centre for mortgage arrears and larger debts. Ms Clerkin commended
the candidates for the sympathetic way they deal with constituents in financial difficulties
and she asked them to always encourage people to keep the lines of communication
open with their lenders.
Emergency Accommodation Councillor Ciara McPhillips advised people in dire need to
contact the social worker appointed by Monaghan County Council if they require emergency
accommodation. This is a service for people who face the prospect of repossession.
Cllr. McPhillips emphasised the importance of early contact and alluded to the Council's
connections with Focus Ireland through which a raft of supports are available. To
contact Monaghan County Council office call 047 30500
Register To Vote! And Use Your Vote! To check if you are on the register of electors
contact Monaghan County Council on 047 30500. Local elections often have a low voter
turn out but if you care about your community you should come out on the 23rd may
and use your vote.
Lolita Reid from the Lithuanian community informed the meeting that some of her compatriots
were having problems getting on the register of electors, even though, as EU citizens
they are entitled to vote in local elections. Monaghan 5050 Group will follow up
this issue on her behalf.
Outreach If there are community groups around Co Monaghan that would like us to visit
their area to provide information on the local elections and local government reform
please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook-Monaghan-Women-Want-To-Have-Their-Say
or talk to Fiona, Gretta or Lynn when you meet us out and about.
Entertainment A big thank you to Dara MacGabhainn and the musicians from MOPOSOG for
providing music and song. We all thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thank You Thank you to all the women who came out on Saturday and best of luck to
all the women candidates in the local elections. Monaghan 5050 Group is a voluntary
organisation and is very grateful to Monaghan County Council for the funding received
through its Community Fund which made this event possible.