Are Fianna Fáil afraid of winning seats?

Fianna Fáil has always understood the idea of gaining and holding on to power, but recent incidents would leave you thinking that self-preservation is now more important to them than controlling City Hall after the next local elections.

The recession, public reaction to the budget, and how Fianna Fáil manage the economy between now and June will determine how many seats the party will win in Galway.

Cllr John Connolly looks strong in Galway City Central while across the political divide there is widespread belief the party can regain a seat in Galway City West. The big test is in Galway City East.

The party currently holds two seats - Cllr Michael J Crowe and Cllr Mary Leahy - but many believe it could have a third candidate in November once the PDs are wound up - Cllr Declan McDonnell.

A ticket with these three would be formidable, blending Cllr McDonnell’s experience with two FF ‘rising stars’. However the roasting Cllr Leahy and Cllr Crowe gave Cllr McDonnell at the recent city council meeting left the impression they were sending him the message, ‘You’re not wanted here’.

These are nervous times for politicians, especially Government ones as Government parties generally do poorly in elections. Also Galway City East was reduced from seven seats to six which makes it even more competitive.

Perhaps Cllr Leahy and Cllr Crowe fear that if Cllr McDonnell joins, he will then have to be added to the election ticket. In a race of three for six, the two newer councillors would be more vulnerable to losing their seats than Cllr McDonnell. Furthermore FF taking half the seats in a reduced ward would be a tall order - even if we were back in Celtic Tiger times.

So are Fianna Fáil afraid of winning seats? Perhaps the law of self-preservation is overtaking the natural Fianna Fáil desire to win at all costs. If so a chance for three seats - and thereby control of the council after summer 2009 - is being lost. Who would have thought it of Fianna Fáil?

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