The big loser in the shake up of the electoral area map last year was the Ballinrobe area, who have had their autonomy as an electoral area usurped and have been consumed into a newly expanded Claremorris electoral area.
The current situation sees Ballinrobe with three councillors, Cllr Patsy O’Brien (FG ), Cllr Damien Ryan (FF ) and Cllr Harry Walsh (Ind ). Claremorris has four seats currently held by Cllr Tom Connelly and John Cribben (FG ) and Cllr Pat McHugh and Cllr Michael Carty (FF ). The new combined area will see the current seven seats reduced by one to six, so at least one of the sitting councillors will lose their seat this time around.
There are 10 names going to the post on June 5 for the six seats, the current sitting councillors are all going forward once again, alongside Fine Gael candidate Michael Burke, young Fianna Fáil hopeful Gerard McHale and independent former Cllr Richard Finn.
While the new Claremorris area will combine the two old areas, a number of territories have been handed over to other electoral areas, the most significant being the loss of the Burriscarra, Portroyal, and Roslee area with a population of 1,327 from the old Ballinrobe area into the newly expanded Castlebar area. On the Claremorris side of things the Aghamore area with its population of 620 is moving into the Swinford electoral area.
In the 2004 election John Cribben topped the poll in the Claremorris area where the Ballyhaunis man was elected on the first count getting 1,693 first preference votes beating the quota of 1,581. He was also joined in getting elected on the first count by his party colleague Tom Connolly whose 1,610 first preference saw him beat the quota by 29. The two sitting Fianna Fáil councillors were elected on the fourth count with the then sitting independent Cllr Richard Finn the big loser despite taking just 100 first preference votes less than Michael Carty who was the last across the line. Finn will be hoping that he can reclaim the seat he lost last time around, but being an Independent he will be looking for a very strong showing in the first preference votes to keep him in the running when the transfers are being divvied out.
Fine Gael were the big winners in the area taking 47.53 per cent of the total first preference votes, contrasting with Fianna Fáil’s total first preference share of 32.09 per cent.
In Ballinrobe last time around Patsy O’Brien was the first man elected on the second count after polling 1,549 first preference votes, but this time out O’Brien has been handicapped by the carve up of the areas seeing some of his natural hinterland being handed over to the new Castlebar area. Damien Ryan was the next man to get elected when he followed O’Brien home after the next count and the Fianna Fáil man will be looking for another strong showing this time around again. The last man in was Independent Cllr Harry Walsh who held off the challenge of the then outgoing Cllr Michael Burke who polled more first preference votes than Kilmaine man Walsh but Walsh picked up large transfers from both eliminated Padraig Flannery, Nora Conroy and from Damien Ryan’s surplus to hold off Burke.
In this newly expanded area it has yet to be seen will Ballinrobe hold on to their three seats, and if they do both Ryan and Burke will be more than likely battling out for it once again.
Cllr Tom Connolly, Cllr John Cribben, Cllr Patsy O’Brien, Michael Burke (FG ); Cllr Pat McHugh, Cllr Michael Carty, Cllr Damien Ryan, Gerard McHale (FF ), Cllr Harry Walsh (Ind ), Cllr Richard Finn (Ind ).