Poleeto is a newly launched Irish ‘civic and political social network’ which is based in Dublin and lets the public vote and have their say on trending issues in politics and current affairs, and connect with their fellow constituents and elected representatives.

For politicians, Poleeto creates a brand new pathway to the electorate by providing a dedicated civic and political platform to highlight views and policy; access trending constituency conversation; and an event scheduling system to drive attendance at clinics, fundraisers and meetings.

“By providing a single, consolidated platform for civic and political engagement, Poleeto filters out the noise of other social networks and concentrates on what matters to the user, like local issues and getting in touch with influencers and representatives,” said Declan Burrowes, Cofounder of Poleeto.

“For politicians on Facebook and Twitter, as followers aren’t sorted by constituency, it’s difficult to shape and broadcast a message that’s relevant to everyone. On top of that, fast-moving newsfeeds, character restrictions and audience-limiting algorithms really limit the depth of interaction.

“On Poleeto, politicians connect through their constituencies, so it’s much easier to enter a thoughtful and constructive dialogue with the people who they actually represent.”

How does it work?

On registration, Poleeto users are sorted into three “communities”: their local county or city council, their Dáil constituency, and their EU Parliament constituency. In these communities, users can link up with their fellow constituents and elected representatives to discuss and vote on issues, highlight local problems and organise meetings. Users, including politicians, may only post in the communities they belong to, though a general ‘Ireland’ community is open to all.

For example, in the Dublin City Council community, a resident could alert their local councillors to a spate of vandalism or enquire about the status of a local building project. In the Kerry community, a TD could post an update on the National Broadband Project, and in the Midlands—North West EU community, start a discussion on the impact of Brexit on a local factory, and so on.

Public and elected users can also vote in daily featured polls on news and issues like the Repeal the Eighth movement, homelessness and Brexit. Representatives can schedule constituency events, like live Q&As, clinics, townhalls and fundraisers. Users can follow and ‘support’ politicians and parties, and receive updates from them in their newsfeed.

In addition, Poleeto’s Government section provides an easy-to-understand and visually intuitive guide to Irish systems of government, including the Dáil, EU Parliament and local councils.

“There are many people who simply don’t feel connected to the people who represent them—if they know who they are at all—and don’t know how to access them or what they can do to help,” said Burrowes.

“With Poleeto, we’ve found that once we show people who their representatives are and how they can help them, and then provide a direct platform to reach them, they immediately feel more involved, empowered and much more willing to ask questions and share opinions.”

Previously, Poleeto has hosted live Q&A sessions with prominent Irish representatives, Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party, and Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP. For the general election, candidates were invited to share their election manifestos with voters, and these included Minister Katherine Zappone and Kate O’Connell TD.

Poleeto was also recently shortlisted for a Dot IE Net Visionary Award for “Best Use of Technology to Make the World a Better Place”.

Who is behind Poleeto?

Poleeto was founded in February 2015 by Trinity College Dublin graduates Declan Burrowes, Dennis Theurer and Dan Reilly.

“A few years ago, I was finding it difficult to get to grips with aspects of Irish politics and local government. In particular, I was looking for advice on a tenancy issue and wanted to turn to my local councillors for help – but I had no idea who they were and what they could do for me. This meant trawling through endless Facebook and Twitter accounts, poorly designed government websites and Wikipedia pages – it was unintuitive and time-consuming, and it needed fixing,” said Burrowes.

“Poleeto solves this problem in many ways. We provide one central location to get information about your representatives, political parties and the government, and in that same place, actually let you reach out to them, ask a question, or discuss issues with your constituency without ever having to go anywhere else.

“Poleeto is a completely bootstrapped start-up. We’ve invested our own time and money into building what you see today, and with a part-time team of three. There’s still so much we want to add and improve. Our long-term ambition is to grow Poleeto outside Ireland, to the UK, Europe and beyond.”

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