Count relocates to Enniscorthy as the usual hall is booked
As the country prepares to go to the polls for next week's Presidential Election and referendum on blasphemy, the election count centre is on the move, taking lock, stock and barrel to Coláiste Bríde which has been drafted in as the count centre for these votes.
In recent years, St Joseph's Community Centre in Bishopswater has been the 'go to' location for election counts but this year, due to a clash of bookings, the returning officer had to look elsewhere.
Counters were subsequently informed that the Loreto Secondary School would be used, but this changed shortly afterwards, when the Loreto became unavailable.
Coláiste Bríde was announced as the count centre venue last Friday.
General manager in St Joseph's, Richie Culleton, explained that they had an underage boxing tournament that had been booked six months ago and was attracting boxing clubs from all over Ireland and the UK. The tournament is organised by St Ibar's/St Joseph's Boxing Club as a fundraiser for their operations and the Boxing Federation of Ireland had given them a narrow window of time in which to run off the event.
Mr Culleton explained: 'The Boxing Federation oversees tournaments around the country and there's a lot of them, so the club had to go with the weekend they gave them. Once they had that date, they came to us and booked the hall and that was six months ago.'
It is understood that St Joseph's Centre will still provide a base for count centre boxes on Thursday, the day before election day, and on Friday night before they are transported to Coláiste Bríde for counting on Saturday.
One group of people are smiling at the news of the venue change however. Coláiste Bríde will play their part in the democratic process for what is understood to be the first time in their history.
School Principal Kiera O'Sullivan said that, to the best of her knowledge, the school has never been used as a count centre, nor has it ever been used as a polling station.
She explained that their hall had been inspected on Friday and it had fit the bill.
'We have a big hall, with a stage, a full balcony and plenty of smaller areas, directly off the hall that can be used as well. We've a good bit of parking and, if the weather is fine as is forecast, we'll have the pitch for parking as well.'
She acknowledged the St Joseph's Community Centre fit the needs for a count and said that no place would provide a mirror image of that but she was confident that the school would be perfectly suitable for the event.
She also voiced her delight that students and the public in Enniscorthy would have the chance to see the democratic process in action.
'It's not often that you get something like this on your doorstep. Our students would go on trips to the Dáil, particularly the CSPE students, but now they'll get to see it happening in their own locality. It's good for a school as it creates interest and students are the future. Some are current voters so hopefully this might give them further interest in politics.'
Ms O'Sullivan said there was a great buzz around the school and that she planned to be in attendance on the day for what will be her first time attending an election count.
'Personally, I'm like a child looking forward to Christmas! I'd encourage anyone who had any interest in the process to come along and see how it all works, especially anyone up this end of the county as we're very accessible.'