Will FF convince Phelim O’Neill to run?

After months of speculation, fretting, and mystery, it finally appears as if Fianna Fáil will have two candidates to stand in June’s Local Elections in Galway City West.

For a number of weeks, there was intense speculation that FF may end up having to run just one candidate. However it is understood that this evening, FF officials will meet with NUI, Galway law graduate and young businessman Phelim O’Neill, to convince him to run for the party alongside Peter Keane.

Galway City West (formerly known as the South Ward ) is a key target area for FF in the election. In 2004, the party was left with egg on its face when it failed to win a seat in this thoroughly middle class ward, while left leaning candidates Catherine Connolly and Niall Ó Brolcháin won seats.

Since then the ward has been expanded to five seats and many feel FF are certain to win one of those. That is not a forgone conclusion however. Cllr Ó Brolcháin will fight hard to retain his seat and there is Labour’s ambitious Niall MacNelis. FF are also something of a ‘toxic brand’ with the electorate after the woeful Budget 09.

However Mr O’Neill may prove a good choice should he accept. He is young and could appeal to the youth vote. He is seeking to establish a new business in pressing times and could be seen as sympathetic to the needs of business.

He is also well versed in the cut-throat world of politics having braved the lion’s den that was NUIG students union politics. He also did Trojan work for Val Hanley during the latter’s successful election campaign to Údaras na Gaeltachta.

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