Regardless of what the fall-out is from any decision today regarding the future of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, and whether or not the State is plunged into a general election before Christmas, the days of the current administration are now seriously numbered.
Last night saw Fine Gael take no chances and a hasilty arranged selection convention for Galway West saw the party select Minister Seán Kyne and TD Hildegarde Naughton. Labour in Galway has equally moved to respond quickly to the uncertainty of events in Dublin, and will hold its Galway West selection convention in the Meyrick Hotel at 7.30pm this Thursday.
Galway City West councillor Niall McNelis will be chosen as the party candidate for the constituency. Labour had scheduled to hold its selection convention in January, but "events" resulted in the need to bring it forward. However the party had initiated formal selection procedures some time ago and concluded its internal consultation procedures last week.
According to constituency chair, Dr Andrew Ó Baoill, “The prospect of an election this side of the New Year has shortened our anticipated timeline, but we are ready to go. I am excited to take our message to the doorsteps, and to encourage support for Cllr McNelis as a dynamic and effective force for our vision of a society grounded in equality and opportunity."
Cllr McNelis has been a Labour representative on the Galway City Council since 2009, and served as deputy mayor in 2015/16. Owner of a local city-based business, he has been active in building economic and regional alliances during his time on the council, including the EU Committee of the Regions, the Border Midlands Western Regional Authority, and the city’s Economic, Cultural Strategic Committee. He is also an advocate for education, and is a member of the Galway Roscommon Educational Training Board, and a board member of both Galway Technical Institute and the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. He also serves on City Hall's Traveller Accommodation Committee and the Housing Strategic Committee.
The next General Election will be challenging for Labour as the party seeks to, not only increase its current tally of seven Dáil seats, but also to fight for its political relevancy. The party has dropped to between three and six per cent in recent polls, down from its 6.6 per cent tally in the 2016 election. In Galway West in that election the party took 5.01 per cent.
The quota in Galway West is 16.67 per cent, meaning Labour and Cllr McNelis faces an uphill struggle, especially as the Connemara based candidates, Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív and Fine Gael's Seán Kyne, are virtually certain to be returned, meaning the remaining candidates are competing for essentially three seats.