Candidates preparing to contest Westmeath County Council seat as Moran announces departure

Two candidates have declared their interest in a return to the local political arena following the departure of Independent Councillor, Jamie Moran, from the Westmeath County Council chamber.

The former Independent Councillor announced his intention to vacate his seat in recent days, in the process nominating his father, former Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran to fill the local authority void.

‘Boxer’s Westmeath County Council co-option is not an eventuality - with former Independent Councillor, Paul Hogan, announcing his intention to contest the vacant seat.

Having lost his Dáil Éireann seat in the 2020 general election, ‘Boxer’ is striving for a return to familiar surrounds having first served as an elected Westmeath County Council elected representative in 1999.

Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, the former OPW Minister, while aspiring for a return to pastures familiar, noted his disappointment that his nomination for the vacant seat will now be contested.

“While I have no right to sit in the seat vacated by my son Jamie in the Westmeath County Council chamber, his decision to nominate me as his replacement should be accepted by the elected representatives.

“A precedent has now been established by Westmeath County Council where one did not exist previously and now there will be a contest for Jamie’s seat.

“For example, when I departed Westmeath County Council upon my election to Dáil Éireann in 2016, my nomination for the vacant seat, Ailish McManus, was unanimously accepted by the then sitting Councillors - there was no contest.

“I have spoken with sitting Councillors in the hope of gaining their support, many of whom I have worked with previously, and I totally respect Paul’s decision to enter the co-option race, but as stated, this is a new precedent of which I am unaware,” Mr Moran asserted.

‘Boxer’ stressed that he has no issue with Paul contesting the seat on January 24, stating that he had “very good time” for the former Independent Councillor, with whom he had worked on numerous occasions during both their previous terms of political office.

“If I am not successful on January 24, I will wish Paul a positive return to the local political environment. I may not be chosen name on this particular ballot but ‘Boxer’ Moran will certainly feature on future ballots to come,” Mr Moran commented.

‘Boxer’ has been “overwhelmed” by the level of support he has received since news of his nomination first emanated this week and noted that Athlone “needed a strong team to deliver for the town” in the coming years, one which would work cohesively across political party divides.

Hogan enters co-option contest

A statement issued by former Independent Councillor, Paul Hogan, on Monday afternoon, confirmed his intention to fill the vacant seat in the Westmeath County Council surrounds.

“It is my intention to contest the vacancy caused by the unexpected resignation of Jamie Moran from Westmeath County Council. I wish Jamie well in his future endeavours.

“I believe I have a legitimate claim to contest this vacancy, as I served as an Independent councillor on Westmeath County Council in the last term. I stood as an Independent in the last local elections on the same independent team as Jamie Moran and Michael O’Brien.

“Of the six Independent candidates who stood in the last election, I finished second behind Jamie, and after my elimination, my transfers played a significant role in electing Jamie as a councillor. Therefore, I have a legitimate claim to be the natural successor to fill this vacancy.

“I am also contesting this vacancy in the interest of fairness, transparency and democracy. It is an important democratic principle that votes should be held to ensure accountability and transparency.

“It is also important that a strong Independent is returned to Westmeath County Council, whomever that may be.

“If elected, I look forward to working with all members of Westmeath County Council for the betterment of the people the Council serves.

“I will proceed by contacting the Members of Westmeath County Council to seek their support for my nomination, in accordance with the legislation and the Standing Orders,” Mr Hogan stated.

Paul was first elected to Athlone Urban District Council in 2004 serving as a Sinn Féin councillor until his departure from the political party in 2018.

For the remainder of his term of office he served the Athlone Municipal District of Westmeath County Council, losing his seat in the May 2019 local elections.

Additional nominations for the vacant local authority seat must be proposed to Westmeath County Council by 5pm on Monday, January 17, with an expected outcome to be realised on Monday, January 24.

 

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