Over the summer, we’re planning to feature a local councillor who has shown particular initiative in they way they’ve put together their site at Councillor.info. It’s just one of several initiatives we’re planning to support and in some cases run, to better help bring us better politicians, better politics and better governance. BTW, thanks to The Insider column in the Belfast Telegraph today for the positive mention of both Slugger and the councillor.info site. Now, to business. This week, we’d like to highlight Domhnall Ó Cobhthaigh a Sinn Fein Councillor for Erne West Ward in Fermanagh District Council. In fact, I met Domhnall whilst chairing cross party panel discussion in Dooneen Community Education Centre in Fermanagh. Bright and articulate my guess is that he is one to watch in future.
His approach to the site is clear and straightforward. There’s plenty of signposting on the main page, not simply the main council site, but also to wikipedia pages for some of the towns and townlands that he represents. That’s a resource he might consider developing in future. The key to wikipedia is that it is a mutual resource.
Encouraging local people to provide a more detailed description of their home place and its local history could be a good civic project around which to build local interest and committment. There are other mutual resources like Flickr, that have been largely underused, mostly because there has not been sufficient sense of their potential, nor enough social entrepreneurship to get the ball rolling.
Domhnall has also used the polling facility to find out what his constituents think about issues of local concern. His news page is kept up regularly, and gives the public an idea about he’s been doing. And I especially like his links page, which allows him to point to an array of his party and party affiliated sites, but also softer more civil society oriented resources like Newshound, the Fair Trade Foundation and the ICTU.
Although the tool is deliberately basic and focused on giving councillors a window to display their representative role in, Domhnall has begun to tease some of its functionalities out. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning of a fruitful exploration of how the web can help connect public representatives with their wider constituency.
We’ll feature another councillor next week!
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty