It has been confirmed that Athlone will hold its own count after the May 23 Local Elections.
Speaking to the Advertiser, returning officer for Westmeath County Council, Billy Coughlan said that the council has decided to use Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí, Lissywollen as the count centre.
“We went to see the school today [Thursday] - it has a hall big enough for what we need,” Mr Coughlan explained. The council had originally wanted to hold the Athlone count in the Regional Sport Centre, but due to refurbishment works there is a possibility it would not be ready for the count on May 24.
Independent councillor and Local Election candidate Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran had canvassed Athlone Town Council to have their own count in the town, as opposed to having the count in Mullingar where the counts for the other two electoral areas will be held.
“I am delighted with the news. There are a lot of people who want to see the count happen. All our supporters are in Athlone so it’s great that the count is staying here - even with the new municipal council,” he said.
The new municipal council will see the termination of Athlone Town Council and the creation of three new electoral areas of Athlone, Mullingar-Kilbeggan, and Mullingar-Coole under the management of Westmeath County Council.
“Keeping the count in Athlone will also create a great buzz over the May 24 weekend, and it will give a boost to local businesses,” added Cllr Moran.
The cost for having two separate count days on May 24 is minimal according to Mr Coughlan. There will be approximately 22 counters needed for Athlone once the boxes arrive from Columb Barracks in Mullingar where they will be opened and verified along with the European Election voting slips.
“No matter where we count Athlone we’ll need the same number of counters,” explained Mr Coughlan. “The only additional cost is hiring the gaelscoil, which is minimal,” he added,
The Local and European Elections will take place on May 23 with counting beginning on May 24. So far there are 13 candidates declared for the Athlone area, 10 in Mullingar-Kilbeggan, and 10 in Mullingar-Coole. There are a total of 20 seats up for grabs in the county.
There is still time for candidates to put their names forward for election. Applications must be received by the county council before close of business on Saturday April 26. Full details on becoming a candidate for the Local and European Elections will be live on www.westmeathcoco.ie from Monday.