Battle to win the Barony comes to a crunch

Local Elections 2019: Belmullet Local Electoral Area Preview

On the tally: Tallymen and Tallywomen tallying the votes five years ago. Photo: Michael Donnelly

On the tally: Tallymen and Tallywomen tallying the votes five years ago. Photo: Michael Donnelly

The maths on this one is simple enough, there are six candidates and only three seats up for grabs in the Belmullet Local Electoral Area. The area has been put back out on its own this year after a brief entanglement with Westport and its surrounds in the West Mayo area.

There are three sitting councillors looking to retain their seats in the shape of Paul McNamara (FF ), Gerry Coyle (FG ) and Teresa Whelan (SF ) - the latter being co-opted onto the council following the election of Senator Rose Conway-Walsh to the upper house in 2016.

One big absence from the area will be caused by the retirement of Independent Cllr Michael Holmes, who is stepping away from the council after three terms as a councillor.

Both Conway-Walsh and Holmes were the top two vote-getters in the election five years ago in the expanded area and with both of them missing from the ballot paper this time around it will make for an interesting contest.

Sitting Fianna Fail Cllr Paul McNamara looks in a good position to retain his seat from his Achill base, last time out he got 1,351 first preference votes, the third highest in the West Mayo area, and if he repeats a similar run this time he should be well home and hosed.

Cllr Whelan faces a tough task in holding on to the seat won by Conway-Walsh, who topped the poll with 2,075 first preference votes. Getting near the 1,368 Conway-Walsh got in the 2009 election when it was just the Belmullet, area is probably more of a barometer that Whelan's team will be looking to come near this time around.

The final sitting councillor is Fine Gael's Cllr Gerry Coyle - who is a hardened political competitor. When it was last the Belmullet area alone ten years ago, Coyle got 1,385 first preference votes - in 2014 that number actually dropped to 1,194 and put him three behind Fianna Fail's Sean Carey on the first count, but he pulled ahead of Carey over the rest of the counts to retain his seat.

Carey is back for another run again this time and will be expected to go very close to picking up a potential extra seat for the Soldiers of Destiny - but the big question is, at who's expense?

The other two runners and riders in the race are Achill based Fine Gael candidate Breege Grealis, who got 511 number ones last time before bowing out in the sixth count. Getting the vote to split in Achill to give her a fighting chances looks like a difficult ask. The final candidate is Independent Jay Heneghan - and you would expect the Inver man faces a tough task in unseating any of the sitting candidates - but this has always proven to be one of the most interesting electoral areas in the past.

Belmullet Local Electoral Area

Seats: 3

Contesting: 6

Sitting councillors: 3

Candidates

Fine Gael: Gerry Coyle, Breege Grealis. Fianna Fáil: Seán Carey, Paul McNamara. Sinn Féin: Teresa Whelan. Independent: Jay Heneghan.

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