An inside look at local politics – from the pens of the politicians themselves

Independent me a**e!

This week Insider proposes to reflect on the plethora of so-called Independents who are campaigning for your vote on June 5. Many of these ‘new Independents’ are former members of the Progressive Democrats whose two remaining TDs - Dep Noel Grealish and Health Minister Mary Harney - continue to support one of the most incompetent governments in the history of the State.

First off is former PD councillor, a close ally of Noel Grealish, Cllr Declan McDonnell.

Cllr McDonnell definitely wins first prize in the brass neck stakes if his election literature is anything to go by. For the past six weeks he has been openly critical of the Government, particularly in the area of health and medical card means testing.

Has Cllr McDonnell forgotten that he was part of the Government for the past 12 years and his party’s minister, Mary Harney, is responsible for the disastrous health service?

It is widely expected Cllr McDonnell will join Fianna Fail before the next General Election.

Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, like Cllr McDonnell is also a former PD councillor and as such is implicit in the type of policies that have our country in its current state of decline. In typical PD/FF fashion, Cllr O’Flaherty has always been pro-development and was the councillor who proposed the re-zoning of lands at Crown Control, which she now claims was a mistake and shouldn’t have gone ahead.

Donal Lyons is also a councillor closely aligned to Dep Grealish, having contested the 2007 General Election as his running mate. Cllr Lyons has been the ‘King of Knocknacarra’ for as long as we care to remember, but a perusal of his record begs the question, for a Government councillor of 12 years, why is Knocknacarra still without a community centre and other much needed facilities?

Turning to the county for a moment, Oranmore based councillor Jim Cuddy recently announced his ‘Independence’ yet he is another who is openly campaigning with Dep Grealish. Prior to both the 2002 and 2007 general elections, the PDs promised a much needed bypass for Claregalway which is now further away than ever.

Returning to the city and to Galway City Central’s Independent candidate Michael Cubbard. Mr Cubbard has also declared himself an Independent, yet for years he has been associated with Fianna Fáil.

He was very visible with the party of Government during the Lisbon Treaty campaign. The recent glowing endorsement he received from former ousted FF councillor and Mayor Martin Quinn, will do little to assist his campaign and he will struggle to shrug off his FF clothes.

Another Galway City Central Independent is Mike Geraghty. He ran for the PDs in the 2004 Local Elections. While he is donning the Independent jersey this time around, up to a year ago was the secretary of the PDs in Galway West and he proudly boasts his PD membership on his current election literature.

Insider believes that the public will see these candidates for what they truly are and while councillors McDonnell, Lyons, Cuddy, and O’Flaherty will most likely be elected as Independents it will be interesting to see will they continue to align themselves with Fianna Fáil in the Galway City Council chamber post June 5.

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