Is there any decent election candidate out there?

The State’s finances are in a bad state and the incoming government after the 2011 General Election will have its work cut out trying to maintain even the most basic of public services like education, health care, and social housing.

This means that the type of candidates which were adequate during the Celtic Tiger era will no longer do. Political parties must put forward candidates who will put the needs of the people before the need to hold the seat. It is easy to be a good sailor when the weather is calm, and you are close to a safe harbour, but when you are out there on the ocean in gale force 10, expertise, courage, and skill is essential.

Before the last general election there was a move by Fianna Fáil HQ to take control of the nomination of all candidates. Local cumann were not happy with this as they saw it as a desire by Dublin to take power from ordinary members. After all they were the ones who would have to go door to door canvassing, so they wanted the freedom to choose ‘their man’.

It is the members of the local constituency organisations who vote at the selection conventions. So for a candidate it is important that s/he gets the backing of paid up members otherwise s/he could find him/herself out in the cold. The Mayor of Galway councillor Michael J Crowe was seen as a ‘blow in’ by many Fianna Fáil members during Election 2007 and that he was only on the ticket because Dublin wanted him there.

We the voters have no say in the choice of person put before us on election day. That is why some people say they do not vote. They say none of the candidates appeals to them.

Insider would say to people who hold this point of view ‘Trust yourself to be able to see beyond political spin’. However this is not easy as the media in Ireland are lazy when it comes to putting candidates through their paces. They are more likely to let candidates use the local newspapers as a Colosseum where they spar with each other like gladiators. This is not good as good reputations can be ruined by the stroke of a pen.

With all this in mind, let us review the candidates for Galway West who have so far been put before us for our consideration.

This year it would seem Fine Gael is spoiled for choice with councillors Pádraig Conneely, Hildegarde Naughton, Brian Walsh, and Sean Kyne, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, Dep Pádraic McCormack, and Keith Stephens and Seosamh O’Laoi all seeking a place on the ticket.

Insider thinks Fine Gael is in bad need of new blood otherwise it will not get young voters. Hildegarde is the face that some people would like to see on the ticket but as she is the ‘new kid on the block’ she might be slighted by the old guard.

Labour - so far - has made its selection in councillor Derek Nolan, who will have his work cut out getting around such a large constituency as Galway West in such a short time. He is young and energetic, maybe the type of person Ireland needs in Leinster House to make the political changes needed to bring us into the 21st century.

Labour will run a second candidate if HQ believes it necessary but it is hard to know at this stage if this would be a good idea. There may be more than two independents putting themselves forward this time in Galway West and Independent councillor Catherine Connolly is the one to watch here.

Independents over the last number of years have found themselves in situations of power. TDs like Jackie Healy Rae and Michael Lowry, not to mention the late Tony Gregory in the early 1980s, were in strategic positions to get various concessions for voters in their constituencies. Could this happen the next time?

It is hard to tell but it does seem unlikely. People will be voting on a government in 2011 and this could hurt independents’ chances.

Sinn Féin has yet to make any breakthrough in Galway West and if it is to do this, the party must put forward candidates who have broad appeal and then give them the support on the ground. However Insider just cannot see Sinn Féin getting a Dáil seat in Galway in the near or far future.

Now the question is who will be put on the Fianna Fail ticket? The Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív is a cert. Frank Fahey and Michael J Crowe are more than likely but with the state Fianna Fáil’s popularity is in, Insider does not think this would be a good time to send a new person to the doors. S/he would be lucky to come back in one piece.

Good to live in interesting times if one could dare say this in public!

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