Erik Eblana throws down constitutional gauntlet
An independent candidate submitted his nomination papers today along with a solicitors letter protesting at the returning officers demand that the candidate must use the term ‘non-party’ which he, the candidate, believes contravenes his constitutional rights.
Mr. Erik Eblana, 40, from Ranelagh is running for a seat on Dublin City Council in the Pembroke-Rathmines constituency.
His solicitor, Terry Cosgrave has issued a letter of protest stating that the term ‘non-party’ on the ballot paper is ‘unconstitutional and a breach of his (Mr. Eblana’s) fundamental and democratic rights to contest the election on fair and equal terms with respect to party candidates.’
Earlier this week Mr. Eblana’s nomination was rejected by Dublin City Council citing ‘insistence by the candidate on the use of the term Independent’ as the reason, which is contrary to current electoral regulations.
Mr. Eblana was told by the returning officer at a meeting Monday, that under rules laid down by the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government, independent candidates must use the term ‘non-party’ or leave the section for party affiliation, blank.
In a statement issued by Mr. Eblana, he contends that the term ‘non-party’ has ‘negative connotations’ and implies that being a ‘member of a party is somehow superior to being independent’.
Furthermore he pointed out that the term Independent is universally accepted in Ireland and that the relevant group of councillor’s, is referred to as the ‘Independent Group’ on the DCC website. ‘They patently use the word independent,’ Mr. Eblana stated. In the daily missal as issued Monday May 11th, by the Returning Officer, for example, the term independent is clearly stated on another candidate’s entry.
This, Mr. Eblana, believes ‘shows double standards on the part of the Government and indicates the lack of joined-up thinking in the modalities of such ridiculous, undemocratic regulations.’
At the meeting with the City Returning Officer Vincent Norton, Mr. Eblana had insisted on using the term independent. Under those circumstances Mr. Norton was left with no option but reject Mr. Eblana’s nomination.
On the rejection notice handed to Mr. Eblana, non-payment of the deposit of €100 was also cited along with non-compliance as a reason for rejection of the nomination.
‘If I had paid the deposit and then the nomination was not accepted, I would have had to forfeit my €100. I can not afford to do that.’ Mr. Eblana added.
He continued stating that, ‘I have spoken to my lawyers, who have drawn up a legal letter stating that I’ve agreed to this ridiculous regulation only after deep consideration and having to jump through the ‘rejection’ hoop to make my point. I will have had to go along with the rule, but I’m doing it under protest and still feel that this rule infringes peoples democratic right to free association or not.’
FURTHER CANDIDATE DETAILS/ QUOTES
Mr. Erik Eblana, 40, from Ranelagh who has been campaigning for a change to the Enterprise Allowance scheme, recently announced he would be an Independent candidate for the Pembroke-Rathmines constituency.
‘I’m throwing my hat into the ring and applying to the people of Pembroke-Rathmines for this job. They are the interviewer’s after-all, and we, the candidates, the interviewees. The area has a strong independent background and there is a need for a voice supporting arts, culture, heritage and micro-businesses," he said. Mr. Eblana, who is the Assistant Director of the Rathmines Festival, also called on other job seekers around the country to seek election as independents and to challenge the party consensus at local authority level.
‘I would encourage jobseekers to stand for election. Our skills, whether unemployed or not, are a valuable asset to our communities and local government. Among the ranks of the unemployed there is now a range of expertise which could and should be utilised in policy implementation.
In a statement he said: "As one of the thousands of new unemployed people I discovered the system and supports available to us who want to set–up businesses strikingly un-enterprising. There is a deficit of representation for ordinary men and women who find themselves in this position and I believe I can represent the interests of those who, through no fault of their own, are unemployed. The City Council must be reflective of all strands of society, including those seeking employment. I would like to contribute my experiences and ideas to face-down these challenges and help shape an enterprising and inclusive future for all Dublin citizens."
Mr. Eblana, a local poet and blogger, has been trying to set-up a heritage walking tours business along the Grand Canal. The micro-business would be based on a narrow-boat moored along the banks of the waterway made famous by poet Patrick Kavanagh. But the culture based idea has been sunk by ‘ridiculous qualifying rules’ around the Enterprise allowance scheme. Unemployed people can only avail of the scheme after 2 years on the live-register. This will be changed to 1 year if measures in the current Social Welfare Bill are approved and enacted.