Get up, get out and vote - Why your vote is important today

Kilkenny People reporter

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Get up, get out and vote - Why your vote is important  today

Get up, get out and vote - Why your vote is important today

Just over half (1.7 million) of those people eligible to vote actually made it their business to go to their local polling station and vote in the 2014 Local Elections. 

A similar number didn't vote while many people feel disillusioned with local, national and European politics, it is important to have a say in 2019. Get to know the candidates and what they offer in terms of representation because the role they play will have a massive impact on your life. 

Take the local elections for example. The councillors hoisted above their supporters' heads at count centres up and down the country this weekend will decide many facets of local life in your area over the next five years.

They vote on development and strategic plans which will filter policy into every area of towns and villages; roads, housing, public amenities, health and more. They decide on the council budget which funds projects that will either inhibit or help your area. It's up to you to impress upon them the issues needing attention.

Councillors sit on various committees discussing issues like rural crime with gardaí; rural isolation, agriculture, footpath and road works, health and housing. What they bring to those meetings is shaped by their interactions with constituents, so it pays to be in their ear and engaged.

With all this back-and-forth in mind, it also pays to know these individuals are the right people to act on those concerns, and that's why we need to vote.

The next time you complain about something under the auspices of the council in your area, make a note of it; make a call to your local councillor and demand action. That is their job; to serve you and the community and bring your interests to the fore at decision time. You can put the right person in that role by voting on Friday.

Voting for European candidates is just as important, perhaps more on a national scale for Ireland, but nonetheless, decisions made in Brussels will filter down and affect your daily life.

The bulk of the work carried out by an MEP is shaping European legislation at committee level and subsequently voting on said legislation. These laws then become binding across the European Union.

MEPs deal with the big issues in the areas of European funding for various projects which are then acted upon by national governments, while also deciding on employee conditions, healthcare policy, agriculture regulation and funding, telecommunications costs and the environment. 

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the EU and decisions made at the European Parliament will have a major impact on the entire world. The MEP you vote for on Friday will have a role to play in that and all legislation formed at EU level by way of the representations they make on Ireland's national and regional interests.

Get to know the candidates, even if they are not from your county or immediate region, and send a voice you trust and believe in to represent us in Europe. 

We are also tasked with voting in another referendum this Friday, a proposal paving the way for the Oirechtas to legislate on the regulation of divorce. Voting in a referendum is always important as it seeks to amend our Constitution, the fundamental mechanism affecting the laws of this country, laws that can only be changed by way of referendum.

In this case, the proposal is about two issues relating to divorce, namely how long people must be living apart before applying for a divorce, and the recognition of foreign divorces.

There will be one question on the ballot paper and voters can either vote Yes to allow both changes, or No to reject both changes. Voters cannot accept one change and reject the other.

By voting 'Yes' who will give the Oireachtas the powers to legislate on both issues. By voting 'No,' no such legislative action will be permitted and the Constitution will remain unchanged in relation to divorce.

All of these votes will affect the lives of Irish people, both directly and indirectly. Therefore, an examination of the candidates and their priorities is essential so you can vote for those you believe will make a welcome difference.

Voting is the most basic, but most effective way, for us as citizens to affect change in our country, counties and communities. Use yours! 

You can find out more about all of the votes you are being asked to decide on below, while you can also follow rolling coverage of those votes and the subsequent counts on our live blog. Click here for Kilkenny People Live Election Blog