Local elections are held every five years. At these elections, members of the local community elect Councillors to represent the community in local authorities. Polling day, which must be in May or June, is the same in all parts of the country. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government makes an order setting the day and setting the polling period, which must last at least 12 hours between 07:00am and 10:30pm.
The local authority returning officer is responsible for conducting the election for each local authority. Each local authority meets the cost of running the election. Further information is available in the information leaflet - How Members of Local authorities are elected (pdf, 350kb)
The local elections were last held on Friday 23 May, 2014.
Local Electoral Areas
Each county, city and city and county is divided into local electoral areas and members of local authorities are elected in these. Local electoral areas and the number of members to be elected in each are specified in a statutory instrument for each local authority area. These were most recently made in 2014 for all except Cork City, which was made in 2008.
Maps showing the local electoral areas can be found in the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee Report 2013.
Candidate Spending and Donation Limits
Spending limits, first introduced for the 2009 local elections, were revised by the Local Government Reform Act 2014. The limit depends on the population of the local electoral area, as follows -
|Local Electoral Area||Candidate Spending Limit|
|Population in excess of 35,000||13,000 Euro|
|Population between 18,001 and 35,000||11,500 Euro|
|Population of 18,000 or less||9,750 Euro|
Candidates nominated by a political party are deemed to automatically allocate 10% of their spending limit to the party’s national agent. For example, a party candidate with a limit of 13,000 euro would be deemed to automatically allocate 1,300 euro for use by the party. Their effective limit would therefore be 11,700 euro. The 10% figure can be varied upwards or downwards by written agreement between the candidate and national agent.
Election spending incurred during a period before the election must be reported to the local authority concerned and must be below the specified limit. The date of commencement of the spending period is set out in an order made by the Minister before the election and must commence between 50 and 60 days before polling day. The Order for the 2014 Local Elections, S.I. No. 144 of 2014, was made on 20 March 2014.
The following rules apply for donations:
- The maximum amount that can be accepted in the same calendar year by a member of a local authority or by a local election candidate from the same source is 1,000 euro.
- Details of donations which exceed 600 euro must be disclosed in a statement made to the local authority.
- A candidate or member of a local authority who receives a monetary donation that exceeds 100 euro must open and maintain a political donations account in a financial institution.
Certain donations are restricted:
- It is prohibited to accept a donation from an anonymous source which exceeds 100 euro.
- Donations in cash which exceed 200 euro are also prohibited.
There are specific rules covering corporate donations which exceed 200 euro – the donor must be registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission and evidence that the donation was approved by the corporate body must be provided.
Guidelines on the spending and donations rules that apply at local elections are available from each County, City and City and County Council.
Further information can be found in the relevant legislation, including the Electoral Act 1997.