Speculation is mounting as to the political intentions of Rev Patrick Towers, the former rector of St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, whether or not he will run in June’s Local Elections - and speculation is intensifying that he may stand for election to the Galway City Council.
In an extensive interview on his life and career in the Galway Advertiser last month, Rev Towers said he “would consider entering politics” and that if he runs it will be for The Green Party.
Speaking to the paper last week, Rev Towers admitted that he is “very much warming to the principle of doing something in the political area” but would make no final decision until he had completed his duties in St Nicholas’.
Rev Towers officially retired as rector of the Collegiate church this week and attention will now shift to what he intends to do politically. It is believed he may run in either the Tuam or Ballinasloe wards as he and his wife Anne will now be living in east Galway.
However, the Galway Advertiser understands there are moves afoot to get the Anglican clergyman to run in Galway city, an area where he has lived for most of the last decade, and where he widely known, respected, and very popular.
If Rev Towers were to run in Tuam or Ballinasloe he would be the sole Green candidate there. However he would not be as well known to voters in the east of the county as he would be in the city.
Should he run in the city, he could count on the Anglican vote and the votes of those who attend St Augustine’s, a church St Nicholas’ has close ties with. He would also attract the vote of the wider Roman Catholic and Protestant clergy in the city.
However it is important to stress that should he run, Rev Towers would not be standing on a Christian ticket, but as someone interested in contributing to the political, social, and economic life of Galway and its people.
Rev Towers’ eloquence, empathy, and flamboyant personality would be an asset to him on the doorsteps. Provided voters can be convinced that he can do the hard graft expected of a councillor and that he has a sufficient grasp of the issues - particularly in a time of recession - Rev Towers could be a real ‘dark horse’ come polling day.
Should he run for the Greens and in Galway city, Rev Towers it would have to be alongside another Green candidate. The party is running Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin in Galway City West, Maíread Ní Chroínín in Galway City Central, and James Hope in Galway City East.
When a party ‘parachutes’ a new candidate on top of the existing one, rivalry breaks out as factions emerge. It can often result in both camps not working with each other and neither candidate getting the seat.
This has happened to Fianna Fáil in numerous elections in Galway over the past 12 years and the Greens will want to be careful of not letting this happen if they convince Rev Towers to stand in the city.
At the moment it is entirely speculation, as Rev Towers has not yet declared where or if he will stand. However he is known to be interested and the Greens are keen to have him. As such, these considerations are important.
If he decides to stand and stand in the city, where would be best? Given that Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin is seen as the party’s best bet of a seat in June, the Greens may not risk running two candidates here, lest they split the vote.
However many would see this area as perhaps the ideal location for Rev Towers and may suggest the daring strategy of running both Cllr Ó Brolcháin and Rev Towers here now that the ward has increased from five seats to six. They would point out that if Fianna Fáil is just running one candidate, that party is more vulnerable and likely to take most of the flak for discontent with the Government.
Potentially Rev Towers could run in Galway City Central. His colourful personality would prove a match for Mayor Padraig Conneely, but would Maíread Ní Chroínín be comfortable at being potentially overshadowed (however unintentionally ) by the flamboyant cleric? It is a similar worry James Hope may have if Rev Towers opts for Galway City East.
No decision has yet been made, but a Rev Towers campaign would be fascinating. As a councillor (and, should he get it, as mayor ) he might be just the tonic for the sometimes fractious and combative council chamber.