The next few months will prove to be career-defining times in the lives of Galway’s two party leaders.
Athenry-based PD leader Sen Ciaran Cannon is certainly going to have to earn his spurs if he is to emerge at the end of 2009 with a smile on his face.
The former county council employee and musician is certainly getting a regular lashing in the national media for his perceived lack of profile, and of course, his regular forays into some issues which have left him with some egg on his face.
His interventions into the prostitution issue, the failure to meet Carla Bruni’s husband when he came to Dublin and this week’s contradictory stance with Mary Harney on college fees are just a few that come to mind.
Needing the support of the young educated voters to breathe new life into the ailing party, the Athenry man will have been less than impressed with his Minister’s welcoming of a debate on the contentious matter.
However, the real test of his mettle will come in the autumn and winter months when he will be compiling the teams of candidates that will ultimately decide if he makes it or not. Or indeed if the PDs make it or not.
They currently have 28 councillors and holding onto those seats will be difficult enough, but he has set a target of adding seven more — an achievement that will buy him more time in the job if it is to be accomplished.
Of course, Sen Cannon is handicapped by the fact that he has not yet served in Government and so will be perceived as a political lightweight until the day he does win a seat in Galway East or West.Or is parachuted into Cabinet via his Seanad seat, as has been suggested.
Because of this Cannon will always have the mistrust of the political writers who barely know him, let alone are able to judge him.
It is a different challenge that faces the other leader who live just across the fields in East Galway — Declan Ganley is expected to decide, privately anyway, in the coming weeks what his intentions will be in next summer’s local and European elections.
His sights will undoubtedly be set on winning seats in Europe, but winning in a big constituency like Connacht Ulster is not easy and it can be costly, though Libertas have shown that they are willing to take on insurmountable tasks in the past and overcome them.
And they have achieved enough in the referendum to show that they are a more than a capable organisation when it comes to raising the funds necessary to achieve the objectives.
Next June will be crucial for both Cannon and Ganley — both are young and outspoken and feel they represent the new Ireland — watching them will be interesting.