Swinford back on its own

Local Elections 2019: Swinford Local Electoral Area Preview

After being lumped in with both the Ballina and Claremorris area last time out, Swinford is standing on its own two feet again this time around.

Four of those with their names on the ballot paper today are sitting councillors, with Fine Gael Cllr Neil Cruise and Fianna Fail Cllr Michael Smyth moving from Ballina and Sinn Fein Cllr Gerry Murray and Fianna Fail Cllr John Caulfied coming in from the Claremorris area for this one.

With four seats up for grabs, each of the above will be tipped to hold onto their seats, with their strongholds in Foxford, Swinford, Charlestown and Kilkelly all keen to retain a councillor in their areas.

With just seven names on the ballot paper, this will favour the incumbents - but there will be strong challenges expected to come, with independent candidate Sean Forkin, Aontu's Tommy Horan and Fine Gael's Tom Lavin all looking to make a dent in the polls.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Murray has been the standard bearer for his party on the local scene for almost two decades now and the party's council leader will be expected to pull in big numbers again this time around. Despite losing a lot of his area (which has now come back to him this time around ), he still beat the quota on the first count in the Claremorris area.

Cllr Michael Smyth put the disappointment of narrowly missing out in 2009 behind him to come back and win a seat last time around for Fianna Fail. Smyth took 1,069 to come fourth in the Ballina area last time after the first count, although it was the 13th count before he was elected. Joining him in being elected on that count was Fine Gael's Cllr Neil Cruise, who got 848 first preference votes - but by count 13 had managed to almost double that to be elected without reaching the quota.

Fianna Fáil's Cllr John Caulfield took 1,518 number ones in the Claremorris area, more than his running mate at the time, Cllr Damien Ryan, and although he didn't reach the quota, he was still comfortably elected on the sixth and final count in that area.

Fine Gael will be looking to pick up an extra seat here with Swinford based Tom Lavin getting the nomination - but he is going to have to have a very good first preference number with this area to be decided after a handful of counts, with just three to be eliminated from the starters. Both Horan and Forkin will be looking to put in good showings, with the former candidate looking to grow his new party's brand and message in this election.

Swinford Local Electoral Area

Seats: 4

Contesting: 7

Sitting councillors: 4

Candidates

Fine Gael: Neil Cruise, Tom Lavin. Fianna Fáil: John Caulfield, Michael Smyth. Sinn Féin: Gerry Murray. Aontú: Tommy Horan. Independent: Séan Forkin.

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