Anyone willing to don a Blueshirt?

By Kernan Andrews

Perhaps in a fit of enthusiasm Fianna Fáil members with aspirations have put Whitesnake’s Ready an’Willing on repeat on their iPods. There are certainly plenty of people ready and willing to run for Fianna Fáil at the next local elections.

Fine Gael however are wondering if too many of their members have been taking Frank Sinatra’s 1959 album No One Cares a little too seriously. The party is finding it difficult to get people interested in running for election to City Hall in 2009 and to compound matters its selection convention is due to be held within the next six weeks or so.

“We’re under pressure to find candidates,” a FG source admitted to the Galway Advertiser. “I don’t know where we’re going to get them from. Fianna Fáil seem to have an abundance.”

Fine Gael can take heart from the fact that it has three strong councillors in each ward of the city - John Mulholland (Galway City West ), Cllr Brian Walsh (Galway City East ), and Mayor Padraig Conneely (Galway City Central ), all of whom should hold their seats.

However FG wants to increase its seats in the council chamber. Running new people is an important way to blood future candidates; and in the PR ‘single transferrable vote’ system, running mates are vital to picking up extra votes and transferring to the main candidate, thereby bolstering the overall party vote.

In the summer, FG appointed a group to source out potential candidates. They are due to report in the coming weeks. No names are really emerging to accompany councillors Walsh and Conneely, but some names are circulating in Galway City West.

Maureen Egan and actress Hildegarde Naughton are being mentioned as possible running mates for Cllr Mulholland, but nothing has yet been confirmed. However, looming large over all considerations at this time, is the spectre of the PDs.

The PDs are expected to disappear within the next few months. Speculation is rife that TD Noel Grealish and Cllr Declan McDonnell will join Fianna Fáil. No one is sure what Cllr Terry O’Flaherty will do but Cllr Donal Lyons has often been linked with a move to Fine Gael.

The undisputed ‘King of Knocknacarra’, Cllr Lyons commands a huge personal vote and would be welcomed by Fine Gael as a sure vote winner to help it take two seats in the now five seat Galway City West.

However, even if the PDs vanish, it is not certain Cllr Lyons will join FG. He may run as an Independent. Keeping his seat and Knocknacarra will be his first priority. What colours he runs under will be second.

Despite being on the brink of extinction, it must be gratifying for the PDs to know that in their final moments, they are still influencing the course of local politics in Galway. Fine Gael however are still in search of those who are ready, willing, and able.

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