FIANNA Fail delegates have selected councillor Kieran O’Hanlon and Castleconnell man Shane Clifford to contest the local elections in May in the Limerick city east ward.
After a hotly contested election - with five people seeking to be put on the ticket - party headquarters chose just two candidates to run in the new ward, though a third candidate may be added next month.
Cllr O’Hanlon, who was “delighted” to be on the ticket, said it was a “fairly tense and very competitive” election.
“There were a lot of very good candidates. People were saying I was guaranteed to be on the ticket, but I really wasn’t. Seventy-one delegates showed up and it was great to see the party alive and kicking, but there were also three disappointed candidates,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Candidate Jim Hickey of the Ballysimon Road, who now appears to have lost out in gaining a council seat on four occasions, said he believes four candidates should be selected at the convention in the Kilmurry Lodge hotel, chaired by Clare TD Timmy Dooley on Thursday night last, and has conveyed his opinions to party headquarters.
“Firstly, this convention should have taken place last November. The third candidate to be chosen, if there is one, will have to await their fate and will be left with little time to get their material printed,” he said.
Cllr O’Hanlon, the only current Fianna Fail councillor among the 17 city councillors, claimed the second highest vote in the former ward two area of the last elections in 2009.
However, following the boundary revision, the new constituency of Limerick city east, stretching from Southill out to Montpelier, and including Castletroy, Monaleen and Annacotty, is expected to be the toughest battleground for local councillors, covering a population of some 40,000.
A councillor for 23 years and elected on four occasions, he said it will be “a very difficult and challenging election”.
“I won’t be able to vote for myself in the ward because Rhebogue is not in the east ward. I am losing half of my solid base but Garryowen has always been my strongest area, as this is where I am from,” he said Cllr O’Hanlon.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea said: “It could take a substantial swing to get three seats [in the new ward]”.
Mr Clifford is the son of the former Cathaoirleach and general election candidate John Clifford from Bruff.