Left: Claire Murray, Sinn Féin, and right, Claire Murray, Fianna Fáil

The two Claires on the Offaly ballot

In what may be a first in the local elections in Offaly, a drawing of lots was held by Offaly County Council in Áras an Chontae, Tullamore, on Wednesday to decide the order on the ballot paper for two local elections candidates with the same name.

Claire Murray, who is running for Sinn Féin in the Edenderry area, came out in the draw so her name will be listed ahead of Fianna Fáil candidate Claire Murray, who's also running in Edenderry for the upcoming local elections.

The drawing of lots was conducted on Wednesday by Returning Officer Monica Cleary.

Fianna Fáil candidate Claire Murray said that she was told that this would be the fairest way to decide who would come first on the ballot paper. She commented: “I assumed that I am Fianna Fáil so FF would come over SF alphabetically but that wasn't the case.”

The Fianna Fáil candidate added: “I thought it was gas, like it's not as if we're both Mary Murphy or something. We don't have extremely common names but there we are.”

Ms Murray couldn't attend the drawing of lots as she was working but her party colleague Cllr Declan Harvey stood in for her instead.

Ms Murray added that it seemed “a little bit archaic” to her to conduct the draw but that she thought it was fair and that nobody could argue with it. “I'm hoping on the day it won't really matter because we're obviously from very different parties. We represent different things with different backgrounds, I suppose we look different so there'll be a visual difference on the paper and our occupation will be there as well.”

She concluded that she doesn't think that people will confuse her and the other candidate. “I think if you're going to vote, people will have the integrity to realize who they're voting for and the parties that they're aligned with or the person that they want to see win a council seat.”

Fellow Edenderry local elections candidate, Sinn Féin's Claire Murray said that she was “pleased” that her name would be listed first on the ballot paper but that it would remain to be seen whether it would provide a “political advantage.”

She added that she hoped it was a “sign from the universe” of how the election will go for her.

“There's a buzz around the two of us having the same name," she said. However, she added: " It's not about the name, it's about the party you're standing for."