It may have the smallest number of voters of the three town councils in the county, but that makes the Westport Town Council race one of the most interesting.
When the counting was finally done last time out after 12 counts only 91 votes separated Sinn Féin’s Dave Keating, who topped the poll on the first count, and Fine Gael’s Ollie Gannon, who lost his seat and finished tenth in the poll. Sixteen went to the polls last time around and 17 will contest it this time, eight of those sitting councillors, with Fine Gael’s Peter Flynn not contesting this time and concentrating on the County Council election.
The last time out Fine Gael (Myles Staunton, Treasa McGuire, Peter Flynn ) and Fianna Fáil (Margaret Adams, Declan Dever, Brendan Mulroy ) won three seats each, with Sinn Féin taking one through Keating and both Keith Martin and current Mayor Martin Keane getting elected on Independent tickets (Martin has since hitched his wagon to Labour ). Gannon, who lost his seat the last time, is back for more and will be hoping to pick up the seat left open by Flynn. Also joining him on the Fine Gael ticket is well known local photographer Michael McLaughlin, who is entering politics for the first time, and Christy Hyland. Fine Gael will be looking for one of their three unelected candidates to pick up Flynn’s seat and at least one more.
Fianna Fáil have also gone for five on their ticket, with Dick Bourke and Tom Flynn joining the three sitting councillors on the hunt for votes. Margaret Adams made the quota on the first count last time for the party but it wasn’t until the 12th count that both Dever and Mulroy made the break. With how tight things can be when it comes down to the final few seats in Westport, the Government party will have to have their votes well managed to ensure that they hold on to their three seats and don’t see one slip away if things go bad for them on the day.
Keith Martin has been raising his profile since he joined the Labour Party and has been pushing on to try to not only hold on to his seat in the town council but pick up a county council seat. His running mate in the town council elections this time is David Fallon, who will be doing very well to be around when the shake-up happens. The Green Party have put forward Fergus McAllister as they try to take their first ever seat in any authority in the county, but will face stiff competition for the green vote from former party member Andy Wilson, although he says his policies are not Green policies but rather sustainability based. Both men will be battling it out for the environmental votes.
Leading out the Independents is sitting councillor and Mayor Martin Keane. Keane has continually proved to be popular among the community in the town, due to his work within the community, and should hold on to his seat. The last candidate running is Joe Lavelle, Lavelle has run previously in the town for the Labour party but this time he is contesting as an independent.