Michael J Crowe is the Fianna Fáil councillor most at risk of losing his seat in May’s Local Elections, according to secret party research which was leaked in the last few days.
Of the party’s 10 councillors, across the city and county, seven are judged to be ‘safe’ and can expect to be returned on polling day, with Tuam area councillor Mary Hoade considered to have the safest Fianna Fáil seat in County Galway.
The document examines the party’s 170 sitting councillors and assesses their chances of re-election according to the vote they received in 2009, and compared to the estimated quota they need to reach in their new electoral area.
While the document makes for reasonably good reading for Galway FF, party activists and grassroots will be concerned by the slippage in Cllr Crowe’s vote which shows he has only a 77 per cent chance of being re-elected.
Although 77 is a high per cent for a candidate in the competitive Galway City East ward - where rivals include Fine Gael’s John Walsh (brother of TD Brian Walsh ) and the formidable Independent councillors Terry O’Flaherty and Declan McDonnell - it is poor given he is one of the best known councillors in the city and his strong performances in the 2004 and 2009 local elections.
Yet, the slippage may not be too surprising given Cllr Crowe’s less than impressive general election run in 2011 and a view in some quarters that since then, he has lowered his profile and perhaps lost much of the bite which made him one of Galway’s most colourful and outspoken politicians before then.
This is in contrast to his brother, Cllr Ollie Crowe, who is reckoned to be the strongest of the three sitting city councillors with his re-election chances given as 100 per cent.
First elected in 2009, he is standing in the even more competitive Galway City Central ward, where his rivals include Labour’s Billy Cameron and Colette Connolly and Fine Gael’s Pádraig Conneely and Frank Fahy. Peter Keane in Galway City West is also given a 100 per cent chance of re-election verdict.
In the county, Fianna Fáil, according to the research, will retain five out of its seven sitting councillors. Cllr Hoade was the highest ranked Galwegian on the list, and 26th overall out of 170, and now has the dubious honour of ‘safest FF seat in the county’, a status no politician enjoys for fear it breeds complacency among their canvassers and voters.
Connemara’s Sean Ó Tuairisg was the second highest Galwegian, at 10 places behind Cllr Hoade and also given a 100 per cent re-election chance, as was Oughterard based councillor Seamus Walsh, Tuam’s Michael Connolly, and Athenry-Oranmore’s Malachy Noone.
The only two county councillors not to reach the 100 per cent were Loughrea’s Gerry Finnerty, albeit with 97 per cent; and Ballinasloe’s Tomás Mannion, who the document judged as having an 87 per cent chance of re-election.
The 87 per cent is still a very strong showing more than two months ahead of polling day, and Cllr Mannion can use the figure to galvanise his canvassers and supporters to make the big push needed in the time that is left to get him over the line. Given that no politician likes to be called ‘safe’, Cllr Mannion will probably not find the result of the research disheartening.
It should also be emphasised that the documents only looks at statistics and not at the numerous local factors which play a major role in determining a councillor’s chances.
The document was prepared for the Fianna Fail Constituencies Committee by a party activist who is a freelance computer programmer. Despite the leak being embarrassing for the party, it has not sought to deny the document.
An FF spokesperson said: “This exercise was one of a number of pieces of work undertaken across the country to help the party understand the possible impact of the new constituency boundary changes.”