Plenty of big names on ticket in Claremorris area

Altogether 12 candidates will contest the Claremorris electoral area on May 23, including seven outgoing councillors, with seven seats to fill.

The outgoing county councillors are Gerry Murray from Charlestown (Sinn Féin ), who is moving from the old Swinford electoral area to the newly redrawn Claremorris area; John Cribbin from Ballyhaunis (Fine Gael ); Tom Connolly from Claremorris (Fine Gael ); Michael Burke from Ballinrobe (Fine Gael ); Patsy O’Brien from Hollymount (Fine Gael ); Damien Ryan from Ballinrobe (Fianna Fáil ); and Richard Finn (Independent ) from Claremorris.

They are joined on the ticket by Independent candidate Harry Walsh, from Kilmaine, who lost his seat in the 2009 local election when he polled 1,095 first preference votes, which just wasn’t enough to be in contention.

So that’s eight of the candidates accounted for.

High drama

Fianna Fáil are running another two candidates - John Caulfied from Kilkelly and JP Kean from Claremorris.

John Caulfield ran in the Swinford electoral area in 2009 and played a part in the high drama of that count, when he was a surprise success and collected just shy of 940 first preferences.

JP Kean is a solicitor in Claremorris town and is a well-known figure in footballing circles, having played for the Mayo senior team and managed the county minors too.

The remaining two candidates are Mags Sheehan from Kilmaine, who is running for the Green Party and works in community development; and Marie Kilcullen from Brickens, who is a paediatric nurse and will run as an Independent.

Fianna Fáil lost two seats in this area in 2009 - between Michael Carty in Knock and Pat McHugh in Claremorris - so they’ll no doubt be hoping to regain some of that ground with Kean as the Claremorris town candidate and Caulfield in the eastern part of the electoral area. But from where will they carve out that support?

Gerry Murray is a strong representative in the east - taking in Charlestown and much of the surrounding area - and should surely be a safe bet, having comfortably exceeded the quota last time around with 2,218 first preferences. Will there be enough left over for Caulfield to increase his support and add another few hundred votes to his 2009 harvest?

It’s hard to see any upset ahead for Patsy O’Brien (who polled a massive 2,760 first preference votes in 2009 ); John Cribben (a long-serving councillor and the sole Ballyhaunis representative ); Tom Connolly (in Claremorris town ); and Michael Burke and Damien Ryan (south of the area in Ballinrobe ).

Similarly Richard Finn is well-known in Claremorris.

The status quo could quite easily be maintained in this area when the votes are counted on May 24 but there are two weeks to go yet and that’s a long time in politics.

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