BALLOTS have now gone out to the 36 people eligible to vote in the plebiscite to call the Square in Newcastle West after the executed Easter Rising leader, Con Colbert.
The voters are being asked to say yes or no to naming the Square as Con Colbert Square and the postal votes must be returned by May 19. Counting will take place in the Newcastle West council office on May 24. A four-sevenths majority is required.
Canvassing has already been done, Fine Gael’s Cllr Jerome Scanlan said when the dates were announced at last week’s meeting of the Newcastle West Municipal District.
When the idea was first proposed, last November, by Fianna Fail’s Cllr Michael Collins, Cllr Scanlan said there was “no appetite” for a name change for the Square.
Two submissions were received when the proposal became public, one from the sixth class pupils of Scoil Iosaf NS in the town who argued the idea was a “waste of time, money and resources”. And if a name change were to occur, they said, Michael Hartnett Square “would be more suitable”. Another submission from Seamus Hennessy, An Post, Newcastle West suggested Pearse Square as an alternative.
However, these submissions were regarded as invalid as the submissions sought by the council were not about agreeing or disagreeing but solely about who was entitled to vote. In the end, some 39 people were listed as being eligible to vote: 11 resident electors and 25 rate-payers.
When Cllr Collins proposed the naming of the Square after Con Colbert, who was executed in May, 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising, he reminded councillors that a similar attempt was made in 1966 but came to nothing, “I think this is very apt,” he said. “I see this as unfinished work from 1966 which now needs to be completed.”
Con Colbert was born in Castlemahon where a memorial statue was erected last year on the centenary of the Rising. He was reared in Athea where the local hall is named in his honour and where a memorial weekend took place last year.