Less than seven weeks from the elections and things are hotting up in the race for Westport Town Council with the announcement of new candidates from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour.
Fianna Fáil has decided to run five candidates in the hope of keeping its three seats but this is a misguided strategy which will see a much diminished FF vote scatter-gunned across too many candidates and could result in a big upset for the Government party on Westport Town Council.
While Margaret Adams, Declan Dever, and Brendan Mulroy have had a good term on the council, the current political climate could spell upset for the latter two. We must ask how will they fare now in these troubled times?
The fact that Cllr Mulroy has Tom Flynn as a running mate from his home estate will not help his bid to keep a seat. Dick Bourke, the fifth Fianna Fáil candidate, is a popular businessman but whether he can cut it as a candidate for office remains to be seen.
Meanwhile Fine Gael is hoping this is its chance to shine but is fielding a weak team in the absence of Peter Flynn on the town council ticket. Myles Staunton is still seen as a rising star and Teresa McGuire had a good year as Cathaoirleach. However McGuire will do well to match her 180 first preference votes from 2004 and is likely to be coming in at a lower number this year, while it remains to be seen if Staunton can top the poll.
Their party colleague Ollie Gannon is seeking to make a return to the council chamber but has been far too quiet in the intervening years, while Christy Hyland and Michael McLaughlin are unknown quantities at this time.
Another unknown is David Fallon, Labour’s second candidate for Westport Town Council. Fallon is an articulate and intelligent candidate but he will have to dramatically raise his profile if he is to snatch a seat from Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. His running mate Keith Martin should do OK on the rising tide of Eamon Gilmore’s ‘New Deal’.
Cathaoirleach Martin Keane is enjoying his year as Cathaoirleach, and should be safe if not a poll topper. Sinn Fein’s Dave Keating is unlikely to top the poll again as he is seen as safe but not radical enough during the council term to ensure a repeat of his 2004 performance.
It is too early to call the results, but it is fair to say there will be drama, tears, and fun. There always is in Westport.