Fianna Fail conventions will not take place anywhere in the west this year. HQ is still miffed at the scenes at the Galway West Dáil convention in 2006 and will not allow local democracy to flourish until the ‘serfs’ have learnt their lesson.
Had conventions been taking place in Galway a convention would not have gone ahead for the Loughrea electoral area. The difficulties faced by Michael ‘The Stroke’ Fahy have created many headaches for Fianna Fail HQ. It now seems they are to cast him adrift and see if he sinks or swims as an Independent.
Fine Gael are delighted at this prospect as they know that such disunity among the soldiers of destiny would guarantee them three seats out of seven. Probably even a fighting chance of sneaking a fourth.
The state of play after the last locals was 2 FF, 2 FG, 2 Independent and 1 PD. Given the extinction of the PDs, the sitting member - Michael Mogie Maher - will undoubtedly follow his leader into wherever he decides and that looks to be Fine Gael. This gives Fine Gael a starting point with three sitting seats.
The geography provides a slight problem for Fine Gael given that the two current sitting councillors and the potential new arrival are all based in the western and northern ends of this vast seven seater.
However word is that a timber merchant in Woodford (not a hurling timber merchant ) is coming under considerable pressure to represent that regions interest. Portumna and Woodford have long been Fine Gael heartlands and a strong candidate from that area could spell the end for either Willie Burke or Michael Regan.
Both men are seen to be in very weak positions for this election and in particular Michael Regan’s star has waned.
A recent trend for Fianna Fáil in Dáil elections is to run the minimum number of candidates. Last time out in Loughrea they ran six and secured three quotas only to win two seats. The chances are that they will not repeat that mistake.
While they have riches in potential candidates in Gort with names like Kevin Fahey and Gerry Hennelly, it looks like mart manager Gerry Finnerty is the favourite to be selected. Huge pressure is being brought to get one of the Treacy siblings to put his/her hat in the ring. This is in order to stop the dominance of Peter Feeney in Athenry.
While there is an internal debate in the household, Insider believes that Noel’s daughter - who resides in Craughwell - is most interested in taking up the reins. If that were to happen it would give Fianna Fáil a strong vote winner in the Athenry/Loughrea/Craughwell region, a highly populated triangle that currently presents rich pickings for ‘Moggy’ Maher and Peter Feeney.
The Fianna Fáil ticket looks devoid of any real prospects once you move out of its heartland of South Galway. The imminent HQ decision to go without ‘The Stroke’ risks turning Fahy into a poll topping Independent.
Given the current mood of the electorate, loyal Fianna Failers could vote for the son of Ardrahan and not risk burning in the fires of hell. ‘The Stroke’ could become a magnet for anti-establishment votes.
There is a strong debate within Sinn Féin about running two different candidates one for Loughrea town council and one for the county council. If that is the case Padraig O’Baoil may run for the town council and Eoghan MacCormaic - Sinn Fein candidate on the last occasion - may run for the county.
While they will not win a county council seat, Insider expects them to pick up a town council on the back of very strong community work particularly around the Gaelscoil and local cultural events.
Population spread would appear to dictate that South Galway will elect two, Athenry, Loughrea, and the southwest one each. That leaves two floating seats. The smart money says the first of these will go to south Galway and the other will fall depending on eliminations to the most transfer friendly candidate from the Craughwell/Loughrea/Athenry triangle.
In personality terms this means the first two south Galway seats will go to Bridie Williers and ‘Stroke’ Fahey. Athenry will be Peter Feeney, Loughrea will be Pat Hynes, Fine Gael will take the Portumna/Woodford seat with their new candidate.
The last two seats should fall to Gerry Finnety in Gort and whichever member of the Treacy clan emerges. That leaves it three Fine Gael, two Fianna Fáil, and two Independents.