WITH the most fundamental shake-up of electoral areas in Limerick’s history confirmed this week, it is Fianna Fail who look like performing the most radical surgery on the election ticket for the local elections in 2014.
While party headquarters is believed to be looking at former county councillors such as Seamus Ahern, Athea; John Clifford, Meanus; and James Cavanagh, Adare, and former city candidates Joe Crowley, Christy McInerney and Jim Hickey, it is expected that many names will go forward at convention that have never been on an election ticket before.
These include Emmett O’Brien from Pallaskenry, a barrister and member of the national executive, who has confirmed he is interested in running in Adare-Rathkeale, now a six-seater.
Fianna Fail is already represented here by Askeaton’s Cllr Kevin Sheahan, while the party could also look to ex-councillors Clifford and Cavanagh to stand
Seamus Ahern would no longer have to contest an election with his home parish of Athea split in two. Sitting councillors Michael Collins and Francis Foley will run in Newcastle West but the party is actively seeking somebody in the Glin area.
“We have somebody in mind, a high profile area of the community in the Glin area,” a party source said.
A vacancy for Fianna Fail is also open in Castleconnell, now part of the largely urban Limerick City East area. The party’s only sitting city councillor Kieran O’Hanlon has seen his most fruitful territory of Garryowen/Rhebogue divided in two but he is believed to favour running in Limerick City East.
Here he could be joined by another O’Dea on the ticket - but not Willie. The party is believed to be sounding out Mulgrave Street publican Jerry O’Dea for the council.
“Jerry is in the Vintners and people will remember he was the man who got the pubs in Limerick to open on Good Friday. Getting elected for Fianna Fail would be a minor miracle compared to that,” was how one party source put it this week.
Former TD Cllr Eddie Wade is resident in Limerick City East, his parish of South Liberties having been “spilt in three” by the redraw.
Cllr Wade told the Leader he was undecided on whether he would stand in the “metropolitan” area or in Cappamore/Kilmallock, a seven-seater.
“It is my intention to run but the question is where. I will be sitting down to talk about it with my supporters,” said Cllr Wade.
Expected to run in Cappamore/Kilmallock are FF’s three sitting councillors Noel Gleeson, Eddie Ryan and Mike Donegan, all of whom the party regards as re-electable.
It is in the city however that the potential Fianna Fail ticket begins to get more interesting. Currently unrepresented on the northside, the party has two officially appointed area representatives in Joe Crowley and Christy McInerney who are expected to run.
Linda Ledger, manager of the community enterprise centre in Ballynanty, was previously courted by Labour but would only consider running for Fianna Fail, a decision she has yet to make.
Limerick City West, a sprawling seven-seater stretching from the city centre to Patrickswell, is already represented by Cllr James Collins and Cllr Leonard Enright. Auctioneer Geraldine Leddin, another of the party’s area representatives, is said to be interested in running.
LIT lecturer Daragh Naughton, a former Fulbright scholar and originally from Patrickswell could be another strong candidate for Fianna Fail here - as could Limerick FC youth coach David Dineen. Months out from convention, it looks like a battle to get on the ticket here and some party members are anxious to protect sitting councillors who held on to seats in trying circumstances in 2009 and not to crowd the field.
Fine Gael’s line-up could depend on the health of Cllrs Mary Harty, Richard Butler and Kevin Kiely. Cllr Cormac Hurley is about to retire while Cllr Pat Kennedy has not yet decided.
On the northside, Cllr Michael Hourigan favours a geographical spread and said former constituency official John Shorten would be a good choice in Caherdavin. Cllr Denis McCarthy should run in Corbally while Cllr Hourigan would also like to see Cllr Kiely run again.
Sources this week also mentioned John Moloney of Johnsey’s shop in Kileely as a possible Fine Gael candidate on the northside, depending on Cllr Kiely’s candidacy.
Some anxious FG councillors who spoke to the Leader this week believed Helen O’Donnell, chair of Limerick City Tidy Towns and wife of former minister Tom, was interested in running. But they can rest easy as the reigning Limerick Person of The Year said that while she had been approached, she was not standing.
Labour’s Cllr Joe Leddin, meanwhile, said there would be “at least one more Leddin” on the Labour ticket in the city. Elena Secas, Castletroy, who came so close to taking Cllr Harty’s seat on the last occasion is still active in Labour and could run again.