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Want to get into politics? Here’s how to go about it

The European and local elections were announced this week. Would you be interested in throwing your hat in the ring?

THE DATE IS set. The government announced this week that the local and European Parliament elections will be held together on Friday, 23 May.

Do you feel disillusioned with politics, think you can do a better job? Why not throw your hat in the ring.

Since mid 2013, the political parties have been selecting the candidates they want to run for them in the local elections. However, there is a specific week in which nominations are taken, taking place four weeks before the polling day.

However, there are still opportunities out there. If you are seriously thinking about putting yourself forward, then the time to act is now.

So, first thing’s first: Are you eligible?

You are eligible to be elected to a local authority if you are ordinarily resident in Ireland and you are at least 18-years-old. You don’t have to be an Irish citizen.

According to Citizen’s Information, you are not eligible if you are or have done any of these things:

  • A member of the European Commission, Parliament or Courts
  • A Minister of the Government or a Minister of State
  • An Ceann Comhairle and an Cathaoirleach
  • A member of an Garda Siochana or a full-time member of the Irish defence forces
  • Judges
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General
  • Civil servants. Where it does not specifically state in your contract of employment that you may be a member of a local authority
  • A person employed by a local authority and is not the holder of a class, description or grade of employment designated by order under section 161(1)(b) of the Local Government Act 2001
  • A person employed by the Health Service Executive and who is at a grade or of a description of employment designated by order of the Minister for Health
  • People who have been imprisoned for a term longer than 6 months
  • People who have failed pay local authority charges
  • People who have failed to comply with an order of a court to pay money due to a local authority
  • People who have been convicted of fraud or dishonest dealings, corrupt practice or acting while disqualified

Party or non-party

The next question you may want to ask yourself is do you want to align yourself with a party or would you prefer to run as an independent candidate?

Speaking to Women for Election, a not-for-profit, non-partisan organisation aiming to bring a gender balance to Irish politics, said people need to consider what is there preference is.

“We would stress that all the political parties are actively looking for good, competent and capable candidates around the country and people who are interested in their community and representing it politically should put their hands up and actively enquire about the potential of running for the local elections either as an independent or with a party that represents their values,” said co-founder Michelle O’Donnell Keating.

“We are obviously aimed at women, and there is especially a great need for women interested in politics in rural areas to step forward,” she said.

Here’s how you go about getting nominated:

Nomination forms are available at your local city or county manager’s office, advise Citizen’s Information, who state that once you have completed your nomination form, you must then return the nomination form back to them.

You may include party affiliation on the nomination paper, but if you have no party affiliation, you may be described as ‘Non-Party’ or you may leave this space blank.

If you are a member of a political party, you must submit a Certificate of Party Affiliation with your nomination form.

However, if you are an independent candidate, you must complete your nomination form and one of the following:

  • Statutory declarations by 15 assentors. These are persons registered to vote in the electoral area concerned.
  • Lodge a deposit of €100 for county/city council and €50 for borough/town council with the returning officer.
  • The returning officer must rule on whether your nomination paper is valid within one hour of it’s presentation.

I want to run as part of a party, how do I do that?

If you do not want to be on the ballot as a non-party candidate then you are going to have to be a member of a party. You should approach the political party about joining and be sure to voice you interest in running in the upcoming election.

O’Donnell Keating told TheJournal.ie as of Friday, in total, 1127 selections had been made nationwide. Of the selections made, 852 are men, while 275 are women.

She said:

The time to act is now. A lot selections have been made, and a lot more will be made over the weekend, but there are still opportunities there.
And you never know, this could be you in May.
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Read: 23 May the big day for wannabe councillors and MEPS>

Poll: Do you plan to vote in the local elections?>

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