Race to replace Whelan hots up with two more names

Lorcan Allen (centre) accepts the endorsement of Fine Gael’s Moate branch as a candidate for co-option onto Westmeath County Council in the wake of Joe Whelan’s recent resignation. Also pictured is Bill Coghlan (left), branch secretary, and son of the late Cllr Pauline Coghlan, and James Glynn, chairman.

Lorcan Allen (centre) accepts the endorsement of Fine Gael’s Moate branch as a candidate for co-option onto Westmeath County Council in the wake of Joe Whelan’s recent resignation. Also pictured is Bill Coghlan (left), branch secretary, and son of the late Cllr Pauline Coghlan, and James Glynn, chairman.

The anticipated re-elevation of John Dolan to the county council chamber will no longer be the rubber-stamped formality he might have hoped for with the news this week that at least two more candidates are to contest the vacant seat - including one from his home base of Castledaly.

On Tuesday evening (September 4 ) the Moate branch of Fine Gael endorsed the nomination of 23-year-old Lorcan Allen to contest the co-option process to the seat vacated in July by the resignation of Joe Whelan.

Then, on Wednesday, the Castledaly branch nominated two candidates - the expected John Dolan, and also his neighbour, Michael Dolan (unrelated ) - for the co-option convention.

Michael Dolan is a 43-year-old accountant and tax consultant from Castledaly, and is married with five children.

He also lectures part-time at the Irish Taxation Institute and employs five people at his practice in Castledaly.

He has previously worked on the campaign trail alongside John Dolan and believes that his local opponent has “no objections” to his candidature.

“He shook my hand and said may the best candidate win. There will be no splits,” said Michael Dolan.

Lorcan Allen, who will be 24 next month, is the eldest son of William and Mary from Boston on the Ballycumber Road.

After completing his early education at Oliver Plunkett NS and Moate Community School, Allen is presently taking a postgraduate diploma in journalism at Rathmines DIT, after finishing his primary degree in political science and sociology at NUI Galway.

“It won’t be easy, but I’ll give it a lash. I’m very young, I know that, but I’m enthusiastic, I have the right tools, and I have to start somewhere,” said Allen.

He joined Fine Gael when he was 18 because “I thought the party were doing a lot of good things”, and has since canvassed around Moate for both the man he hopes to replace, ad for Deputy Nicky McFadden in the general election.

“There’s a great [Fine Gael] vote in the town, almost double what it was 10 years ago, and after the resignation the branch didn’t want this vote to dissipate,” he said.

A date for the co-option meeting to decide Westmeath’s next councillor has been set for September 21 in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel, and though each of the other three Fine Gael branches - Athlone, Glasson, and Mount Temple - in south Westmeath can propose another candidate by 5pm on Tueday September 11, a senior source suggested that this “would be unlikely”.

Shortly after Whelan’s resignation, John Dolan, a farmer from Ballinahown, confirmed his candidature to return to the chamber.

John Dolan has already served a year and a half as a county councillor after he was initially co-opted onto the council in 2007 to take over Nicky McFadden’s seat on the demise of the double mandate and her elevation to the Senate.

He then lost it to her sister Gabrielle on his first occasion before the electorate in June 2009.

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