Galway voters may not have the chance to vote for former Galway GAA football manager, Dep John O’Mahony, as a Dáil candidate in the 2016 General Election. Instead he may become a European candidate for the North-West.
It is understood Dep O’Mahony is interested in contesting next May’s EU parliament elections for a seat in North-West. If this comes to pass, it will see him vying for an EU seat with sitting FG MEP Jim Higgins.
Dep O’Mahony was first elected to the Dáil in 2007 for the Mayo constituency and was returned in 2011. However, recent boundary changes have seen the constituency drop from five seats to four and a large portion of south Mayo - Dep O’Mahony’s main territory - added to Galway West.
From this it was widely assumed he would contest the 2016 General Election in Galway West, taking the northern part of the consistency, while Dep Brian Walsh would run in the city, and Dep Sean Kyne in Connemara.
The fact Dep O’Mahony was the Galway GAA football manager who led the county to celebrated All-Ireland victories in 1998 and 2001, ensured he would be a popular candidate.
This was all thrown into disarray when Dep Walsh voted against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny quickly nominated FG city councillor Hildegarde Naughton to the Seanad in a clear statement she would now be the city candidate.
Yet it is by no means certain Dep Walsh will not be reinstated as a full FG member and party candidate within the next two years. He retains a lot of support throughout Galway West and his distancing himself from the group around Dep Lucinda Creighton was a first move back into the parliamentary party.
Dep O’Mahony is aware of this, and that controversial senator Fidelma Healy-Eames (who also voted against the Abortion Bill ) is determined to run for the Dáil again, and will resist any attempts by FG HQ to marginalise her.
Also, the presence of senators Naughton and Healy-Eames in the eastern section of Galway West and the vote that Dep Walsh picks up out there, could split the FG vote.
As a result, Dep O’Mahony has become wary about running for FG in Galway West, given the uncertain situation of two of its most prominent members and the factional divisions within the party.
As such if Dep O’Mahony does not run here, the FG vote is likely to go to Dep Seán Kyne, a welcome boost that could see him safely back in the Dáil in 2016.
Taken together, it makes sense for Dep O’Mahony to have his eyes on the EU elections. In this, the Mayoman appears to have support from his county colleague Enda Kenny, as well as FG HQ - but at the expense of Dep Higgins.
Dep O’Mahony’s GAA connections will help in the EU elections more than just in Galway West. North-West is primarily made up of Connacht (completed by a hotch-potch of Ulster and Leinster counties and Clare ). Along with Dep O’Mahony’s success as Galway manager, he was manager of both the Mayo and Leitrim football teams, and with the three counties won seven Connacht Football championships.
FG will be counting on this, as much as political matters, in securing Dep O’Mahony a seat should he run in the 2014 EU elections.