Consensus exists between Labour and Fianna Fáil party insiders that Sinn Féin is “certain” to win one of the six Galway City Central seats in May’s Local Elections.
Sinn Féin will hold a selection convention in the Harbour Hotel tomorrow at 8pm where Anna Marley, a constituency affairs worker for the Galway West Sinn Féin office, will be chosen as the GCC candidate.
Ms Marley’s selection comes six months after the party chose Mairead Farrell and Cathal Ó Conchúir as its Galway City East and Galway City West candidates respectively. While SF was adamant it would run a central candidate, the difficulty and length of time taken in doing so - the party had approached Labour’s Billy Cameron, who refused - indicates it is in danger of not capitalising on the strong potential SF votes which exist in the ward.
That said, Ms Marley will have a certain profile due to her being involved in a number of community-based campaigns in the area, including Reverse the Rent-Cap and Abolish the Property Tax. Also, with SF currently on c16 per cent in the polls, it has more than a quota in a six seater, where the quota is 14.3 per cent.
Ms Marley, though, must contend for the left vote with Cllr Cameron, who is likely to be the left’s best vote getter; Labour’s other candidates Colette Connolly and John McDonagh; and People Before Profit’s Kiran Emrich.
Looking more broadly, the current view is that Cllr Cameron, Fine Gael’s Pádraig Conneely, and Fianna Fáil’s Ollie Crowe are strongly positioned to take three seats, with the remaining three being a battle chiefly between the second FF and FG candidates, Labour, and SF.
FF is bullishly optimistic Nicola Deacy will take a second seat and her entry into the campaign, as well as her geographic location, will cause trouble for Colette Connolly and running mate John McDonagh, both of whom have Shantalla as their base and could potentially cancel each other out. Were this to happen, it could allow Ms Marley and/or Ms Deacy to take a seat. Nonetheless, Cllr Connolly is not someone to write off lightly.
Also, it will be interesting to see how Fine Gael’s Frank Fahy polls, having not done that well when he ran in Galway City East in 2009. He now finds himself in a new constituency, albeit one where much of his old stomping ground is included due to last year’s boundary revisions, and with almost two years under his belt as a sitting councillor.
Ms Marley may not be quite the certainty some in FF and Labour believe an SF candidate in GCC could be, but if her campaign can get momentum from the start, she can still seriously challenge for one of the last three seats