On Monday The Green Party unveiled its election team for the 2009 local elections - the first political party in Galway to do so. However the party look unlikely to make any increase on the one seat it secured in 2004.
In 2009, as in 2004, the party will run one candidate in each of the three city wards and two candidates in the Galway County Council area.
Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin will again stand in Galway City West (formerly the South Ward ) to which he was first elected in 2004. Last year was a turbulent one for him. His handling of the cryptosporidium crisis was judged to have been poor and his failure to effectively challenge for a seat in least year’s election was a personal low point.
Things have changed somewhat since. Galway City West was recently increased from a four seater to a five and this should help Cllr Ó Brolcháin retain his seat - especially from a resurgent Fianna Fáil and Labour, both of whom are determined to secure a comeback in the ward. Interestingly, some members of both parties privately admit Cllr Ó Brolcháin has regained his standing and can be confident of winning a seat.
However Cllr Ó Brolcháin may be the only Green success story in 2009 as further breakthroughs in the city council are difficult to see.
The party’s candidate in the four seat Galway City Central ward will be Maíread Ní Chroínín, who ran for the Greens in Galway East in last year’s general election.
Galway City Central is arguably the most competitive council ward and home to four council heavyweights - Mayor Padraig Conneely, Labour councillors Billy Cameron and Colette Connolly, and Fianna Fáil Cllr John Connolly.
The controversial Mayor Conneely and Cllr Cameron are widely expected to hold their seats. Cllr John Connolly should do the same - he was an unknown in 2004 who topped the poll while Fianna Fáil councillors around the country were dropping like flies.
Although Cllr Colette Connolly is seen as the most vulnerable of the four, she - like John Connolly - has a wide circle of family members and friends who will rally to her cause in 2009. Another man with strong family connections in the ward (especially in Bohermore ) is Ollie Crowe, brother of Cllr Michael J Crowe, who is seeking to be included on the Fianna Fáil ticket.
Given all this, it is difficult to see where Ms Ní Chroínín can make the breakthrough to take a seat.
Running in Galway City East will be James Hope, a former NUI, Galway Students’ Union president and former chair of the Young Greens. This ward was recently reduced from seven seats to six seats, making this highly contested ward even more of a battleground.
Galway City East is an area Labour is confident it can do well in and is determined to secure two seats here. While Sinn Féin appear a fading force in the city, they, the Greens, and Labour will all be competing in the same pool of Left/Liberal votes.
Fianna Fáil will take at least one (perhaps two ) seats here. Fine Gael Cllr Brian Walsh will also hold on. The two PD councillors (in whatever guise they run in 2009 ) are also in with a shout of retaining their seats. As such where, is the opportunity for the Greens?
Monday’s launch also unveiled two candidates for the Galway County Council. Patrick Creed will run in the Loughrea area. Mr Creed is from Athenry and is head of the Athenry Environmental Network. Pastor Paul Osikoya, who is originally from Nigeria, will run for the Tuam Town Council.