Will the economic cutbacks see a cutback in councillors’ support?

Cllr Mary Leahy

Cllr Mary Leahy

This time next year all the hullabaloo of the Local and European elections will be over and a new city council and mayor will have been elected. In the meantime, the big question is, how will the current economic climate and cutbacks affect the members of the council in their bids to be re-elected?

Insider believes if the Government’s budget and measures are seen to be practical and working, Government party councillors will not be affected as they were in the Local Elections in 2004.

Many of those elected at local elections usually have a hardcore of their own personal vote - which should be unaffected - and a number of the councillors have worked hard for their constituents for the last five years and beyond.

Many individual battles are going to take place within the three wards and within individual parties. The decisions of some councillors of which ward to run in will have a huge bearing on the outcome.

If there is no serious backlash, Fianna Fáil could end up with five seats after the next Local Elections: two in Galway City East, two in Galway City Central, and one in Galway City West. However it is the make up of these names that will be of interest.

If Cllr Michael J Crowe runs in Galway City Central, who will accompany Mary Leahy as the Fianna Fáil flag bearer in Galway City East?

Will it be a member of the Progressive Democrats or will they find someone new? Having only won one seat in this area the last time it will be crucial for them to have a strong candidate to secure that second seat.

For many months Insider has been writing about the possibility of some members of the PDs joining the Fianna Fáil ticket. However Insider believes that their loyalty to Bobby Molloy will have all three councillors; Donal Lyons, Declan McDonnell, and Terry O’Flaherty fighting on a Progressive Democrats ticket.

The bigger question is who will the other parties run? Will there be strong Independents? Will there be single issue Independents, because in all local elections - as in Cllr Crowe’s case last time round and Paddy Lally in a previous council - Independents have a strong chance of being elected.

An important question for Galway City Central is will Michael D’s daughter Alice Mary contest the election and if so, how does that affect the Labour ticket and seats?

Is it Colette Connolly or Billy Cameron that will suffer most? Insider’s view is that Cllr Cameron is the strongest candidate and will be returned. Another bearing on this ward, which will be intriguing, is if the current mayor goes from hanging on by one vote in the last local elections to topping the poll? Many people believe this will happen but whose votes will he take and what effect will this have on the finishing order?

Insider believes that if Fianna Fáil present a strong ticket in Cllr John Connolly and Cllr Crowe, then this ward will have the major battle of the local elections with one councillor losing out.

The safest ward, looking at it 12 months out, is Galway City West, with an extra seat, high profile candidates, and no other candidates coming out of the traps. The extra seat in this ward could go to Fine Gael or a strong PD candidate like the previous Cllr Paul Colleran in the Salthill area. However it is more likely that either Fine Gael or Labour might take a seat in this ward.

Another major battle could take place in Galway City East. If Cllr Crowe decides to run here there will be one hell of a battle. Labour will be trying to make a gain as will Fine Gael. However both the Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats councillors are working strong on the ground and will be hard to shift.

As in all local elections there is always a surprise candidate but until you get closer to the election we won’t know who this is. A lot will depend on the make up of the tickets in all three wards.

Twelve months out, Insider’s prediction is that Galway City Council will be made up as follows: four/five Fianna Fáil, three Fine Gael, two/three Labour, two/three Progressive Democrats, one Independent, one Green.

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