“Almost...but not quite” is how Galway Fianna Fáil might sum up its team for June’s Local Elections in both the city and county, with many candidates virtually certain to be selected, others still battling for a place, and the rest in the dark as to what party HQ intends to do with them.
What is the state of play in Galway city? In Galway City East the line up is virtually certain to be Cllr Michael J Crowe, Cllr Mary Leahy, and Sheila Mangan. Galway City Central and Galway City West however remain problematic areas.
Now that Galway City West has become a five seater, FF is confident, that despite being held in contempt by the electorate, it cannot fail to win back the seat it lost in 2004 (is this what you call ‘whistling past the graveyard’? ).
Peter Keane is the party candidate here, but will he have a running mate? There is increasing speculation that Phelim O’Neill will be the man, but equally there is much speculation that he may decide that now is not the best time to enter politics.
In Galway City Central it is a similar story. Cllr John Connolly is standing again, but no one is sure who his running mate will be. The choice is between Ollie Crowe (brother of Michael ) and former mayor Martin Quinn.
There are conflicting views as to who will be selected. Some within the party believe FF HQ is not keen to see the Crowe’s build something of a ‘political empire’ within Galway city as this could harm chances of wooing Noel Grealish into the party.
On the other side it has been claimed that Mr Quinn has fallen out of favour, that he is seen as ‘yesterday’s man’, and there is little enthusiasm in fielding a candidate who lost his seat in the last locals.
As regards the county, the situation is also one of “almost...but not quite”. Connemara has four sitting councillors - Seamus Walsh, Séan O’Tuairisg, Connie Ní Fhatharta, and Josie Conneely. All four can be expected to stand in June.
However there is speculation that the party may seek to run a fifth candidate and the two names floating about as possible such candidates are Noel Thomas and Louise O’Connor.
It was widely felt that FF received a lucky break in 2004 in securing the four seats in Connemara and that running five in a time when the party is a ‘toxic brand’ is living dangerously. The counter argument is that the Barna, Moycullen, and Bushy Park areas need a candidate to take on Fine Gael Cllr Sean Kyne and hence someone should be run here.
Whereas Galway City Central and Connemara are cases of slight indecision, Ballinasloe and Oranmore are something of an enigma.
Cllr Mary Hoade has to decide if she is going to run in Oranmore or Tuam. If Cllr Hoade opts for Tuam she will be running alongside Tom Reilly and Michael Connelly. If Oranmore, there is speculation FF may then add Eamon Kitt to the ticket in Tuam.
Furthermore if Cllr Hoade remains in Oranmore, she may have to run alongside a yet to be decided second candidate. A third might be added if former PD Cllr Jim Cuddy opts to join the Soldiers of Destiny.
Meanwhile in the far east of the county, it is understood that FF has written to the local party organisation in Ballinasloe saying the sitting councillors will be standing again but other candidates can be added in the future. The exact number is not specified.
Perhaps these are all cases of indecision. Perhaps all these strange machinations are part of a plan by HQ to keep prospective candidates guessing and hoping long enough to prevent any of them from carrying out that most Fianna Fáil of actions - going independent should they fail to be selected for the party.