Blueshirt anxiety in Galway City East

While Fianna Fáil struggles to find candidates to run in Galway City West, the ‘auld enemy’ Fine Gael is having a similar problem in Galway City East.

However there is an important difference. While FF is finding it hard to convince people to run, Fine Gael is getting plenty of offers but is having trouble finding anyone it thinks is electable. For leading Fine Gaelers in the city, it’s the kind of situation in which the term ‘an embarrassment of riches’ could be misused.

The party is determined to find two candidates to run alongside Cllr Brian Walsh in the ward at next June’s Local Elections, but this is not proving to be easy.

A number of those who have expressed an interest are not regarded as strong enough or able to deliver a second seat. FG is currently talking to Barra Nevin - a pharmacist in Roscam - and believe he may the right man.

If he accepts, that still leaves one place vacant. Some within FG say that for the purposes of running an election campaign everything needs to be decided by January, and if a full ticket is not achieved by then the party will just have to run whoever it has.

Outside of Galway City East, FG is having better luck. The actress and singer Hildegarde Naughton is likely to become Cllr John Mulholland’s running mate in Galway City West. While Galway City Central has only one FG candidate, it is the larger than life figure of Mayor Padraig Conneely.

FG can be confident it will hold its three city council seats but knows that to increase its representation in City Hall it must take a second seat in Galway City East, hence the party’s concern to find the right candidate and anxiety that it has not yet done so.

The problem is further exacerbated by the recent poll figures, the decline of Fianna Fáil, and the presence of Labour.

A recent national poll showed FG five per cent ahead of FF. Despite this, some FG members in Galway say the anti-Government vote that is waiting to be let loose during for the Local Elections, is not going to FG but to Labour.

This can only be of benefit to Labour’s Galway City East candidate Derek Nolan (and won’t do running mate Nuala Nolan any harm either ). The worry for FG is that despite Fianna Fáil being on the ropes, FG will stall as the public swing behind Labour - and by extension crown Labour not FG as the real opposition leadership.

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