Adrian Kavanagh, 18th June 2013
There currently are 223 councillors in the nine local authorities located within the Connacht-Ulster region. The number of County Councillors in some of these local authorities will increase at the next local elections but numbers in most counties in Connacht and Ulster will fall to a notable degree. At present, and taking account of changes of party allegiance and co-options since the June 2009 contest, Fine Gael is the largest party at a local authority level in Connacht-Ulster, currently holding 90 seats (40% of the total). Fianna Fáil is the next largest party at a local authority level in this region (64 seats, or 29% of the total number of seats), followed by Sinn Fein (21 seats, or 9%) and Labour (9 seats, or 4%), with non-party councillors filling 38 of the 223 seats (17%) at present.
At present, 33 of the councillors in the Connacht-Ulster region are female (15%) and 190 of the councillors are male (85%). Fianna Fail has the biggest number of female councilors in this region, with there being 12 female Fianna Fail councillors (19% of the total number of Fianna Fail councillors) in the Connacht-Ulster region at present. 8 of the Fine Gael councillors are female (9%), as opposed to 2 Labour Party councillors (22%) and 5 Sinn Fein councillors (23%), in addition to six non-party councillors (16%). 19 of the current number of Connacht-Ulster councillors (9%) have been co-opted at some stage over the past four years and males (14 co-options, or 74% of of all co-options) account for most of these co-options.
The changes made to the number of councillors assigned to different Connacht and Ulster counties in the recent boundary revisions, as well as the nature of the boundary changes taking place within different counties in the Connacht-Ulster region, does determine that there are going to be some constituencies in this region that are likely to be very competitive due to the large number of incumbents likely to be contesting these in 2014. Other areas could well offer good prospects for potential candidates due to a more limited level of competition from experienced incumbents (though, presumably, not from other candidates).
The local electoral area that I have allocated to the different incumbents is estimated based on what I know as regards their own local area details – effectively I try to assign these to the local electoral area that their home based is located in. My attempts to do so are shaped by the level of information available, however, and where candidate location information is limited I effectively have to “guesstimate” the candidate’s local electoral area. When more detailed information becomes available, I will correct and update these details.
First, I’ll try to outline the local election constituencies that Fine Gael’s current list of Connacht-Ulster councillors.
|Bailieborough-Cootehill||6||Val Smith, Sean McKiernan, Aidan Boyle, John O’Hare, David Blake|
|Ballyjamesduff||6||Winston J. Bennett, Paddy Smith, Paddy O’Reilly, Dessie Boylan|
|Cavan-Belturbert||6||Peter McVitty, Maura McGuire-Lynch|
|Andrew Boylan, Madeline Argue|
|Donegal||6||Barry O’Neill, John Boyle|
|Inishowen||9||John Ryan, Bernard McGuinness, Mickey Doherty|
|Galway City Central||6||Padraig Conneely|
|Galway City East||6||Frank Fahy|
|Galway City West||6||Michelle Murphy|
|Athenry-Oranmore||7||Jarlath McDonagh, Liam Carroll|
|Ballinasloe||6||Michael Finnerty, Kevin Ryan|
|Conamara||9||Eileen Mannion, Seosamh O’Laoi|
|Loughrea||8||Jimmy McClearn, Michael Maher, Bridie Willers|
|Tuam||9||Tom McHugh, Peter Roche, Tiernan Walsh|
|Ballinamore||6||John McCartin, Gordon Hughes|
|Carrick-on-Shannon||6||Tom Mulligan, Gerry Reynolds, John Ward|
|Manorhamilton||6||Sean McDermott, Siobhan McGloin, Frank Dolan|
|Ballina||8||Eddie Staunton, Jarlath Munnelly, John O’Hara|
|Castlebar||8||Henry Kenny, Cyril Burke, Eugene McCormack|
|Claremorris||7||Patsy O’Brien, John Cribbin, Tom Connelly, Michael Burke|
|West Mayo||7||Peter Flynn, John O’Malley, Austin O’Malley|
|Ballybay-Clones||6||Ciara McPhillips, Hugh McElvaney, Owen Bannigan|
|Athlone (Roscommon)||6||John Naughten|
|Boyle||6||Ernie Keenan, Gerry Garvey|
|Michael Creaton, Michael McGreal|
|Ballymote-Tubbercurry||8||Gerard Mullaney, Pat McGrath|
|Michael Fleming, David Cryan|
|Mary Barrett, Dara Mulvey|
|Sligo||10||Joe Leonard, Hubert Keaney, Matt Lyons|
|Aoiffe McLoughlin, David Cawley|
As the table shows, Fine Gael has at least one incumbent Councillor associated with all of the new local election constituencies in the different Connacht and Ulster counties – indeed they have at least two incumbents in all of the new local electoral areas outside of Galway City, Donegal and north Monaghan. There are some areas that have especially high levels of sitting county councillors located within them and this is going to mean especially virulent levels of competition between party members in these areas at the 2014 contest. The standout case here is the Ballymore-Tubbercurry electoral area (in Sligo), in which six Fine Gael incumbents are based and potentially will all be seeking the party nomination to contest next’s year local elections in this eight-seat electoral area. Other electoral areas with high levels of Fine Gael incumbents currently associated with them include Sligo Town, Ballina (Mayo) and Bailieborough-Cootehill (Cavan), all of which have five Fine Gael councillors located within them.
After the 2011 Dail/Seanad elections:
Ciara McPhillips was co-opted to replace Heather Humphries (Clones) on Monaghan County Council.
Seosamh Ó Laoi was co-opted to replace Sean Kyne (Connamara) on Galway County Council.
Kevin Ryan was co-opted to replace Paul Connaughton (Ballinasloe) on Galway County Council.
Michael Finnerty was co-opted to replace Michael Mullins (Ballinasloe) on Galway County Council.
Frank G Fahy was co-opted to replace Brian Walsh (Galway City East) on Galway City Council.
John O’Hara was co-opted to replace Michelle Mulherin (Ballina) on Mayo County Council.
Aoiffe McLoughlin was co-opted to replace Tony McLoughlin (Sligo Strandhill) on Sligo County Council.
David Cawley was co-opted to replace Imelda Henry (Sligo Strandhill) on Sligo County Council.
Updates: According to a Roscommon People article, two Fine Gael councillors (Dominick Connolly and Laurence Fallon) resigned the party whip and joined the independent ranks.
Due to Hildegarde Naughton’s appointment to the Seanad to replace Martin McAlese, her seat in Galway City West is now vacant. According to the Galway Bay FM website, “It’s likely a selection convention will be held in September to choose a person to go forward at the October meeting of the City Council to be co-opted into Hildegarde’s seat”. It is expected that former Fine Gael councillor, John Mulholland (who lost his seat at the 2009 local elections), will take up this seat, with the Galway Advertiser claiming that he was “almost certain to be co-opted onto City Hall”:
A later article in the Galway Independent however suggested that Mulholland has yet to make his mind up whether to run in next year’s local elections and suggested that local business representative, Michelle Murphy, could instead fill this vacancy and go on to contest Galway City West at the 2014 local elections Indeed, Michelle Murphy subsequently won the co-option contest on 14th November, after both she and Mulholland were selected to contest the 2014 Local Election in Galway City West for Fine Gael. Mulholland subsequently decided in January 2014 that he would not contest the local elections.
The Mayo News has reported that Westport Fine Gael councillor Peter Flynn “has announced he is walking away from politics in frustration at national plans to rationalise the local government system”, with his main issue focusing on the abolition of town councils and of Westport Town Council in particular.
Gary Carville (Monaghan County Council) will not be contesting the local elections.
Other Fine Gael retirements (not noted here) in this region include: Andrew Boylan, Dessie Boylan, Aidan Boyle and Maura Maguire Lynch (all in Cavan County)
Sadly Cllr Gerry Murray from south Sligo passed away on 9th January 2014 – Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. His cousin, David Cryan, was co-opted to replace him on Sligo County Council at the February 5th meeting of the council.
Mary Barrett (Sligo) has announced that she is retiring from politics will not seek to contest the local elections.
Ahead of the Ballina convention on 25th January 2014, it was announced that Seamus Weir would not be contesting this and he subsequently revealed that he would be instead contesting these elections as an independent candidate.
Next to look at the Labour Party.
|Galway City Central||6||Collette Connolly, Billy Cameron|
|Galway City East||6||Tom Costello, Nuala Nolan|
|Galway City West||6||Niall McNelis|
Reflecting the party’s weak base of support in this region, the party is unrepresented in most of the electoral areas in this region and especially outside of the more urban Galway City, Sligo Town and east Donegal regions. Underpinning the party’s strength at a local authority level in the more urban areas, Labour has two councillors in two of the electoral areas in Galway City.
After the 2011 Dail/Seanad elections:
Shaun Cunniffe was co-opted to replace Colm Keaveney (Tuam) on Galway County Council.
Derek Nolan was co-opted to replace Nuala Nolan (Galway City East) on Galway City Council.
Jimmy Harte (Letterkenny) had been elected in 2009 as an independent candidate, but subsequently joined Labour and won a seat in the Seanad elections of 2011. An independent, Michael McBride, was co-opted to take his place on Donegal County Council.
John Kelly (Castlerea) had been elected in 2009 as an independent candidate, but subsequently joined Labour and won a seat in the Seanad elections of 2011. An independent, James Cogan, was co-opted to take his place on Roscommon County Council.
Update: Stranorlar-based Councillor, and former Donegal South West By Election/General Election candidate, Frank McBrearty has announced that he has left the Labour Party.
Now to look at Fianna Fail.
|Bailieborough-Cootehill||6||Fergal Curtin, Gerry Murray, Niamh Smyth|
|Ballyjamesduff||6||Danny Brady, Shane O’Reilly|
|Cavan-Belturbert||6||John-Paul Feeley, Sean Smith|
|Donegal||6||Brendan Byrne, Sean McEniff|
|Glenties||6||David Alcorn, Seamus O Domhnaill|
|Letterkenny||10||Liam Blaney, Ciaran Brogan, Dessie Larkin|
|Inishowen||9||Rena Donaghey, Paul Canning|
|Stranorlar||6||Gerry Crawford, Patrick McGowan|
|Galway City Central||6||Ollie Crowe|
|Galway City East||6||Michael J Crowe|
|Galway City West||6||Peter Keane|
|Conamara||9||Seamus Walsh, Sean O’Tauirisg|
|Tuam||9||Mary Hoade, Michael Connolly|
|Ballinamore||6||Paddy O’Rourke, Caillian Ellis|
|Carrick-on-Shannon||6||Sinead Guckian, Gerry Kilraine, Sean McGowan|
|Ballina||8||Annie May Reape|
|Castlebar||8||Al McDonnell, Blackie K Gavin|
|West Mayo||7||Margaret Adams|
|Carrickmacross-Castleblaney||6||PJ O’Hanlon, Padraig McNally|
|Athlone (Roscommon)||6||John Keogh, Paddy Kilduff|
|Boyle||6||Rachel Doherty, John Cummins|
|Ballymote-Tubbercurry||8||Jerry Lundy, Martin Baker|
|Sligo||10||Patsy Barry, Jude Devins|
|Deirdre Healy McGowan, Rosaleen O’Grady|
If the picture for Fianna Fail in Leinster at a local authority level was decidedly more positive than was the case in Dublin, this proves to be even more so the case in the Connacht-Ulster regions. The party’s levels of local representation are quite healthy in most parts of this region, albeit not to the same degree as was the case following the 1999 local elections and also not to the same levels as Fine Gael’s strength in this regard. Outside of Galway City and the more south-eastern parts of Galway County, Fianna Fail has at least two councillors in most of the local electoral areas in this region and indeed have more than two in a number of these. The party, from my estimations, appears to have four sitting councillors resident in the new Sligo (Town) electoral area, although problems with a very large party ticket in this regard are offset somewhat by the fact that this is a ten-seat electoral area and by the fact that females account for two of these five seats (thus addressing concerns that might emerge over ensuring a gender balance on the party ticket). There are a number of six-seat electoral areas in which the party currently has three councillors resident in – Ballyjamesduff (Cavan), Ballinamore (Leitrim), Carrickmacross-Castleblaney (Monaghan), Athlone (Roscommon), Boyle (Roscommon) – and selection concerns will probably be at play in these cases. Fianna Fail has appointed a smaller number of Local Area Representatives in this region, reflecting the fact that the party is much healthier at a local authority level in Connacht-Ulster than it is in the other regions.
After the 2011 Dail/Seanad elections:
Paul Canning was co-opted to replace Charlie McConalogue (Inishowen) on Donegal County Council
Claremorris-based solicitor JP Kean has confirmed that he will seek a nomination to contest the Claremorris electoral area as a Fianna Fail candidate in the 2014 local elections. Belmullet-based Sean Carey and Derek Reilly have also noted their intention to contest for a party nomination to contest the new West Mayo electoral area.
But the parties two sitting County Councillors in the new West Mayo electoral area, Westpost-based Margaret Adams and Aachil-based Michael McNamara have both announced that they will not contest next year’s local elections.
Current Mayor of Roscommon, Martin Connaughton, has confirmed that he will not contest next year’s local elections. Cllr. Patsy Barry (Sligo Town) has confirmed also that he will not be contesting these elections and so too has another Sligo Town-based councillor, Cllr. Jude Devins.
Westport Councillor Margaret Adams has confirmed that she will be retiring from politics with next year’s local elections.
Sligo councillor, Deirdre Healy McGowan, has announced that she will not be contesting next year’s local elections for “personal and business reasons”.
Tomas Mannion (Ballinasloe electoral area) has decided not to contest the local elections and Michael Connolly (Tuam electoral area) has in turn decided to move to the Ballinasloe electoral area.
John O’Brien (Monaghan County Council) will not be contesting the local elections.
Gerry Kilraine (Leitrim) has announced that he will not be contesting next year’s local elections.
The country’s longest serving councillor, Ballyjamesduff councillor, Danny Brady, will be stepping down from Cavan County Council at next year’s local elections after having served on this council since first being elected in 1967.
Now to look at Sinn Fein.
|Glenties||6||Marie Therese Gallagher|
|Galway City Central||6|
|Galway City East||6|
|Galway City West||6|
|West Mayo||7||Rose Conway-Walsh*|
|Carrickmacross-Castleblaney||6||Matt McCarthy, Noel Keelan|
|Monaghan||6||Sean Conlon, Brian McKenna|
Sinn Fein are relatively strong at a local authority level in this region, ranking as the third strongest party behind Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. But there are notable geographical differences across the region with the strong level of party representation in the electoral areas along the Border contrasting with the weaker levels of representation in the more southern parts of this region. In the party’s stronger areas, Sinn Fein tends to have just one local representative, but there are some six-seat electoral areas in Cavan and Monaghan (Cavan-Belturbert, Ballybay-Clones, Carrickmacross-Castleblaney) in which three sitting councillors are currently located and the party will face a challenge in trying to retain these seats at the next local election (although recent poll levels suggest that this is not by any means an impossible task).
After the 2011 Dail/Seanad elections:
Jack Murray was co-opted to replace Padrag MacLochlainn (Inishowen) on Donegal County Council
Sean McSharry was co-opted to replace Michael Colreavy (Manorhamilton) on Leitrim County Council
Update: Rose Conway-Walsh has confirmed her intention to contest next year’s local elections, even if she is selected as a Sinn Fein candidate for the European elections. In the end, she lost out at the European Elections selection convention to Matt Carthy.
Update (21 October 2013): Stranorlar-based councillor, Cora Harvey, has announced that she will not be contesting next year’s local elections and will be stepping down from her position on Donegal County Council over the coming weeks. In November 2013, Gary Doherty was co-opted to replace her on the Council defeating Christina McGranaghan in a contest for the co-option.
Update: The Anglo Celt reported on 14th November 2013 that Gráinne Brady (Ballyjamesduff) had resigned from Cavan County Council. Noel O’Connell was co-opted to replace her.
The only two Green Party county councillors in the state at the moment are both found in the Leinster region. Malcolm Noonan is based in the area that will be the Kilkenny City-West electoral area in 2014, while Marian Butler was co-opted to replace Malcolm Dearey as councillor for Dundalk South after he was promoted to the Senate.
The “Independents” grouping is strongly represented in Connacht-Ulster, as in other regions, as the table below shows.
|Letterkenny||10||Ian McGarvey, Michael McBride|
|Stranorlar||6||Frank McBrearty Jr.|
|Galway City Central||6|
|Galway City East||6||Terry O’Flaherty, Declan McDonnell|
|Galway City West||6||Donal Lyons, Catherine Connolly|
|Conamara||9||Tim Welby, Seosamh O Cuaig, Tomas O Curraoin|
|Loughrea||8||Michael Fahy, Pat Hynes|
|Tuam||9||Sean Canney, Shaun Cunniffe|
|Ballina||8||Seamus Weir, Gerry Ginty|
|Castlebar||8||Frank Durcan, Michael Kilcoyne|
|West Mayo||7||Michael Holmes|
|Carrickmacross-Castleblaney||6||Seamus Treanor, Paudge Connolly|
|Athlone (Roscommon)||6||Tony Ward, Jim Kenny, Dominick Connolly|
|Roscommon||6||Paula McNamara, Laurence Fallon|
As with some of the political parties (but especially Sinn Fein), there are notable geographical differences in terms of the number of non-party/smaller party councillors associated with different local electoral areas and with different counties. Roscommon and Galway are especially striking in this regard in terms of the number of non-party councillors associated with these counties, but, by contrast, there are currently no independent councillors representing any of the three (new) electoral areas in Cavan.
After the 2011 Dail/Seanad elections:
John Campbell was co-opted to replace Thomas Pringle (Donegal) on Donegal County Council.
Michael McBride was co-opted to replace Jimmy Harte (Letterkenny) – who had won his 2009 Council seat as an independent candidate – on Donegal County Council.
John Murphy was co-opted to replace Luke Ming Flanagan (Castlerea) on Roscommon County Council.
James Cogan was co-opted to replace John Kelly (Castlerea) – who had won his 2009 Council seat as an independent candidate – on Roscommon County Council.
Finally, I’ve put all these details together to try and determine which currently look like being the most competitive electoral areas in the 2014 contest, at least in terms of the number of incumbent councillors who may be contesting these constituencies.
|Galway City Central||6||1||0||3||0||4||0|
|Galway City East||6||2||1||4||1||6||2|
|Galway City West||6||2||0||3||0||5||0|
Although the number of councillors has been increased in some of these local authority areas (Galway City, Galway County, Donegal), some electoral areas in these counties do seem to offer more “space” for new candidates to get established in and to challenge for seats with two “more” seats being on offer relative to the number of current incumbents resident at present in these constituency areas (or even three, as in the case of the Inishowen (Donegal) electoral areas).
By contrast, a number of other counties in this region have lost county council seats in these boundary revisions, and the loss of seats seem to have especially impacted on some of the local electoral areas within these counties due to the way that these revisions have panned out. The new Sligo (Town) electoral area does seem to be especially competitive with the analysis associating fourteen current sitting councillors with this ten-seat electoral area, as also does the Boyle electoral area in Roscommon where ten incumbents are currently resident in the constituency area of this new six-seat constituency. In most cases, electoral areas in counties such as Cavan, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim seem to be losing an average of two seats due to the effect of these boundary revisions. All of the Cavan electoral areas look to be especially competitive, but especially the Balieborough-Cootehill and Cavan-Belturbert electoral areas.
There is an interesting gender dimension here too. Some of the new electoral areas have high levels (in relative terms) of female incumbents associated with them (most notably Cavan-Belturbert and Sligo (Town)), while others are present have no female representatives associated with them.
Note that this analysis is based on the best level of information that I have at present and these details will be regularly updated and corrected as and when further information comes my way.