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What are you going to ask local election candidates? Here's what we suggest...

If you intend to engage with politicians on the doorstep, what do you plan on saying?

IT’S LESS THAN three weeks until election day and if you haven’t had any candidates coming to your door yet, expect it over the next few weeks.

They’ll have plenty have thoughts and ideas for you, but what exactly are you going to ask them? We want to know what you want from a local representative To get it started we’re putting forward some suggestions of questions for you to ask.

Of course, the questions you ask may depend greatly on who the person on your doorstep is, but all councilliors have the same job to do so you can still have an idea.


Labour elections launch. An Tanaiste a Labour launching their campaign on Thursday Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

This year we will be electing 949 councillors, a significant reduction from the 1,627 councillors currently in place. Most areas are losing councillors, but Dublin is actually getting more, the capital’s numbers are going up from 52 to 63.

All parties will therefore likely lose seats on 23 May and with a far more concerted presence from smaller parties like People Before Profit, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, Direct Democracy Ireland and others, seats will be tightly contested.

So what do want from a councillor? Local representatives are by their nature among the most accessible politicians but how can you be sure that they’re going to be effective.

Ask them: 

  • What do you know about how councils work? 
  • Have you ever been to a council meeting? How often will you attend?
  • What is the best way to contact you directly?
  • If I have a problem, why should I contact you and not a local TD?
  • How do you intend to work to reform local government?
  • What are your ‘red-line’ issues when it comes to budget votes?



Water Meters Protests Water meter protest in Raheny, Dublin. Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The Government has yet to give a definitive answer on exactly how much people are going to be required to pay for water use when charges come into force from October.

Water charges has been a flashpoint issue for politicians for a number of years but the issue has been brought to a head recently as protests in a number of areas around the country have disrupted the installation of water meters.

The issue of water charges is one which is close to the heart of local councils given that responsibility for water provision has now been taken from local authorities and placed with the semi-state Irish Water. The consultancy cost that was occurred as a result of this transfer was also subject to significant controversy at the start of this year.

The imposition of water charges is being opposed by a number of parties and candidates, with the Socialist Party even changing it’s name to “Stop the Water Tax – Socialist Party” to highlight their position. But how should you gauge a candidates position on the doorstep?

Ask them:  

  • Will you be working to reverse water charges or working to see them implemented correctly?
  • Will you support me if I make a decision not to pay?
  • If I have a problem with the water service I’m now directly paying for, how will you help me deal with Irish Water?
  • If you support the introduction of water charges, what do you consider a fair charge? Will you campaign to keep it below that level?  



Aerial Views of Dublin A view of Dublin from the Google Docks Building, the tallest building in the city Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Property prices and rental prices are both consistently rising. Although Dublin has been outpacing the rest of the country, recent statistics suggest that price drops in others have been stabilising and are showing signs of recovery. Other reports have demonstrated how cash buyers are in a particularly strong position in the property market and how a drought in the construction  sector has led to a lack of supply that is also pushing prices.

But these cold economic stats are having an effect on the ground as a number of stories in recent weeks has demonstrated. One Irish mother, who was living in a car for a week with her three children, is now staying in a hotel temporarily.

There was also another story of a woman who has been told she must leave her rental property of five years but is refusing to do so because she cannot find affordable accommodation elsewhere. A local councillor who has been working with her says that she has been on a local authority housing list for a number of years.

Ask them:  

  • I’m struggling to pay my rent, what supports are available for me? 
  • How could the council better provide local authority housing?
  • Are you concerned about rising property prices?
  • Are you in favour of the local property tax?
  • The Government have promised that the local property tax is ringfenced to provide local service, how will you hold them to account on this?

The Government

Pathways to Work Reports How are these guys doing? Sam Boal Sam Boal

Despite the old adage that ‘all politics is local’, local elections occuring halfway through a Government’s term will always be massively influenced by the performance and perception of the Government that is in power.

Fine Gael and Labour were given an exceptionally strong mandate to lead the country in 2011 but, two by-elections aside, 23 May is the first chance the public have had to deliver their verdict on how they have used it.

The Government will point to the fact that they have delivered on their goal of steering Ireland’s exit from the EU/IMF bailout programme. But opponents will point to the fact that they’ve done so by continuing to impose swingeing cuts that have not been implemented fairly across society.

Ask them: 

  • How do you rate the Government’s performance?
  • In what areas have they failed to deliver on promises?
  • If you had the power, what one Government policy would you reverse?

So there you go, if you intend to engage with politicians on the doorstep, what do you plan on saying?

Tell us below. 

Read: Here’s why these twenty-somethings are running in the local elections >

Read: This helpful video tells Fine Gael candidates how to behave on the doorstep >

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