The thing about elections is that political anoraks can never get enough of them. The locals are just over and already speculation is going on about who might run for which party in the next General Election.
Lets start with the easy ones. For the foreseeable future the Greens and Sinn Fein are irrelevant in Galway West and regardless of who they put forward they will have no impact on the outcome.
Insider did not decide this but the electorate of Galway did when discarding former Green councillor Niall Ó Brolcháin, first in the 2007 General Election, and then putting the final nail in his political coffin in early June at the local elections. Councillor Daniel Callanan was also ousted, albeit after he left Sinn Féin to become Independent.
Labour are in a very strong position and will hold on to their seat regardless of whether their candidate is the incumbent Dep Michael D Higgins or one of the newcomers like Cllr Niall McNelis or Cllr Derek Nolan. With the support of their council colleagues and the wind at their back, the party’s seat is safe. The veterans - councillors Tom Costello and Billy Cameron - while decent local representatives, are not at this level.
The former PDs also showed their resilience in the local election. All of their Galway West based councillors were returned and in style. Once the first count had taken place none of them was ever in doubt.
The fly in the ointment might be Cllr Tom Welby. Insider understands that he is gearing up for a Dáil run and if this is so, how badly will it affect Dep Noel Grealish? You could argue that Cllr Welby did not do a lot to help Dep Grealish the last time as his transfers mostly went to Fianna Fáil. That said, if he runs this time he will be stronger and will take votes off both Dep Grealish and Dep Frank Fahey. It’s just a question of how many.
Dep Grealish might not possibly have the full support of all of his former colleagues. Insider understands that some have been dismayed at his ongoing ‘will he, wont he join FF?’
Insider believes he is already under threat on a number of fronts and is by no means certain to get re-elected regardless of what he decides to do. Out of this pack you will have Dep Grealish and Cllr Welby standing.
Insider believes that while Labour was the big winner in the local election in the city, if you examine across the entire Galway West region it was Fine Gael who came out on top.
From Clifden to Turloughmore the blueshirts have councillors in every populated area in the region - Eileen Mannion in Clifden, Sean Kyne in Moycullen, Hildegarde Naughton in Knocknacarra/Salthill, Pádraig Conneely in Galway City Centre, Brian Walsh in Galway City East, Liam Carroll in Oranmore, and Jarlath McDonagh in the Turlough area.
Are ye worried yet, Fianna Fáil?
Add in the party’s Galway West TD Padraic McCormack and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and you have to come to the conclusion that Fine Gael is in two-seat territory. Their team will be a representative from Connemara, the city, and Oranmore.
Fianna Fáil is in serious trouble and in a real battle to hold their two seats in Galway West. Be under no illusion that this is true. Pre-2007 in Galway West the party had a senior and junior Minister, a senator, five county councillors, and three city councillors.
Now the party has one senior minister, one TD, three county and three city councillors. It is a big drop in a short space of time.
Éamon Ó Cuív’s department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is under threat from An Bord Snip; Josie Conneely and Connie Ní Fhartha lost out and Mary Hoade moved to Galway East, and the city vote only held up because of the Crowe faction.
Fianna Fáil need to do something to address this and quickly. Their candidates will more than likely be Ó Cuív, Cllr Michael J Crowe, and Fahey.
The next election will happen either this side of Christmas or in mid-2012. It is a real possibility that Fianna Fáil could fall to just one seat in Galway West.
Insider sees the following- one FF, one FG, and one Labour in Galway West with Crowe, Fahey, Grealish, and a second FGer fighting it out for the last two. It is possibly a long way off but now more than ever it is all to play for.