Mellet loses out in Ballina area convention

Last weekend the Ballina Municipal District selection convention for Fine Gael ahead of May’s upcoming Local Elections, saw a number of shocks. Firstly the announcement by sitting Fine Gael councillor Seamus Weir that he would not be seeking the party’s nomination, but would be running as an independent following the fall out from the anti-pylon movement in his Knockmore base. A decision he will not be reversing even after the decision by the Government to convene an independent commission to look at the issue, which he confirmed to the Mayo Advertiser this week (more on page one ). As a result of this decision, Fine Gael headquarters mandated that there would only be four slots selected at the convention not the five as was planned. When the counting was done, two sitting councillors, Mayo County Councillor Joe Mellett and Ballina Town Councillor Mark Winters, failed to get a nomination for the party. Cllr Mellet’s failure to get a nomination will have caused quite a surprise, he had put his name forward for selection only a few weeks previously having just held on to his seat by the skin of his teeth at the previous local elections. Mellet who is the current Fine Gael whip in the council chamber is also a former cathaoirleach of the council. The failure of Cllr Winters to secure a nomination sees Fine Gael currently without a candidate in the Ballina Town Council area, a major voting block, with Bonnicolon’s John O’Hara bei their current sole nominee in that region. O’Hara was joined on the ticket by sitting councillor Jarlath Munnelly from Killala, alongside newcomer Niall Cruise from Foxford, whose groundswell of support from grassroots members in the Foxford area saw him over the line at the expense of the Swinford based Mellett. The final nominee to be selected at the convention was Crossmolina’s Padraig Staunton. While only four candidates have been selected so far, it is believed that Fine Gael party headquarters may add a fifth person to the ticket, with Cllr Winters being favourite to be selected to run from his Ballina town base. In the last local elections Deputy Michelle Mulherin won a seat in the Ballina area from the town, Cllr O’Hara was co-opted on to the council to replace her when she won her Dáil seat.

 

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