With 24 hours to polling day Labour teeters on the brink of collapse, Fianna Fáil on the edge of recovery, and Sinn Féin and Independents ready to make significant electoral breakthroughs.
This is the mood across the city, to varying degrees of intensity, ahead of the Local Elections, when votes will be cast at polling stations across the city from 7am to 10pm tomorrow.
Despite voter anger at the Government and a drop in support for Fine Gael over the last three years, the party is expected to perform solidly, winning four seats across the three wards. However a poor election strategy in Galway City West, and a seeming lack of confidence in Galway City East, means FG has effectively rejected the possibly of taking the potential five/six seats poll figures show it capable of achieving.
Fianna Fáil could win up to six seats. However voters have still not forgiven the party for it’s role in the State’s economic collapse and this should halt a hat-trick of two seats across the wards.
Nonetheless, FF will increase its representation in City Hall from three councillors to four/five seats. The party’s ‘great white hope’ is Galway City Central’s Nicola Deacy, to be able to see off the challenge of Labour, the Greens, and Sinn Féin.
The intense rivalry between Galway City West candidates Peter Keane and David Burke will make for an interesting contest as both men need to be wary of each other and the rising challenge from Sinn Féin’s Cathal Ó Conchúir, who could prove capable of upsetting FF’s plans for two seats here.
Sinn Féin stands to gain only two seats, at most, in Galway city. Mr Ó Conchúir has potential, but is by no means certain, while Anna Marley’s campaign in Galway City Central has lacked momentum. Galway City East’s Máiréad Farrell is the party’s best chance and her campaign has built up a head of steam that should guide her into the fourth seat there, making her the first SF candidate to take a seat in the city in 10 years. Nonetheless the party will see victory in GCE and a serious challenge for a second seat in GCW as progress in a traditionally anti-Republican city.
Independents have often done well in Galway city, and the current four sitting Independent councillors are set to be returned. Their numbers may be added to by possibly another two candidates.
Galway City East Independents Terry O’Flaherty and Declan McDonnell are on course to retain their seats, and will possibily be joined by Noel Larkin who has come from nowhere to be a real contender.
Councillors Donal Lyons and Catherine Connolly will take the first two seats in Galway City West, while Mike Cubbard, on his third local election outing, is finally poised to win a seat in Galway City Central.
The fate of Labour is the hardest to call. The on the ground situation finds the party in better condition than its national poll figures of seven per cent indicate. Cllr Billy Cameron will be among the first three councillors elected to Galway City Central, while the broad appeal of Cllr Neil McNelis in Galway City West should see him draw transfers from all political persuasions, allowing him to keep his seat.
To return with two out of five seats would be a disaster for Labour which has enjoyed the status of largest party in Galway City Council for the previous two elections. However poor strategic decisions risks seeing Cllr Colette Connolly and John McDonagh cancel each other out in Galway City Central; while the party is throwing its weight behind Monica Coughlan in Galway City East to preserve the seat held by Cllr Tom Costello between 1991 and 2014.