One Direction concert poses election dilemma

Wednesday 12 March 2014 22.48
One Direction concert cordon may impact voting location
One Direction concert cordon may impact voting location

Concerns have been raised about voters' access to a Dublin city polling station as a result of restrictions in the area due to a One Direction concert on polling day.

One Direction will play three nights at Croke Park beginning on Friday 23 May, the same day as voting for the Local and European Elections.

Dublin city returning officer for the European Elections James Barry said he has written to local representatives saying he was advised by gardaí that they are planning a cordon in the vicinity of O'Connell School on North Richmond Street in Dublin 1.

He said that in the interest of public safety, gardaí advised him that he may have to relocate the O'Connell School hall polling station for the European and Local Elections to another location.

The move would affect over 2,200 voters. 

The issue was raised yesterday by local TD and Minister of State Joe Costello at a meeting with the GAA.

Mr Costello stressed people's right to exercise their franchise and local voters should not be unduly disrupted. He said he hoped a resolution could be found.

Last night, a garda spokesman said they had sent a report to the Dublin City Sherriff's office to alert it of the clash.

He said they informed the office that they are extending the garda cordon in the area during the event to include Mountjoy Square and the streets adjoining it.

The spokesman said the office was advised that this may cause disruption to people accessing the polling station and recommended they may have to make alternative arrangements.

A spokesman for GAA said the issue was brought to its attention yesterday and it consulted gardaí.

They said there is no requirement to close the polling station as it is outside the cordon.

Mr Barry said last night that no decision has been made yet and he is hopeful of a resolution.

He said on foot of information from gardaí he is concerned about access to the station on polling day and it is important turnout in this area is not affected.

Mr Barry said he will hold talks with gardaí on the issue and if he gets clearance from them that voters will not be unduly disrupted, they will not change the location of the polling station.

However, he said if assurances cannot be given, then he will seek other locations and he has researched two alternative venues nearby.

Mr Barry said he has a four-week window to make a decision and he has given plenty of notice to find a solution.