THE run-up to the 2014 local elections in Adare Rathkeale has been characterised by border-crossings and the come-back kids, by shadow-boxing and revolt and by a few leavetakings. And that’s only the preliminaries.
The picture isn’t complete yet but as things stand in this new six-seat electoral area, Fine Gael is fielding three candidates, Fianna Fail is fielding four candidates, while the Anti-Austerity Alliance is fielding one.
Also standing will be independent Cllr Pat Fitzgerald. Labour expects to name a candidate early in the New Year while Sinn Fein has committed to standing candidates in all electoral areas. .
First though, the changes. With the redrawing of the boundaries and the creation of a new Adare Rathkeale electoral area in anticipation of the merger of city and county, the last-ever Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr John Sheahan (FG) saw his Glin base transferred into the Newcastle West area and, after some soul-searching, he opted to follow it.
Meanwhile, Cllrs Tomas Hannon (Lab) , Leo Walsh (FG) and James Collins (FF) opted for city electoral areas while Leo Enright (FF) in Patrickswell called it a day.
But as David Naughton, one of Fine Gael’s longest-serving councillors stood down, former poll-topping councillor Tom Neville, who decided not to contest the 2009 elections, stepped back into the electoral limelight.
At a non-contentious convention, Mr Neville was put on the party ticket with Cllrs Rose Brennan and Stephen Keary.
Fianna Fail’s strategy of renewal and the adoption of the one-member, one-vote system got a noisy introduction in Adare Rathkeale. With just one sitting councillor going forward, Cllr Kevin Sheahan, three other candidates with previous history were looking to get on the ticket along with new hopeful Emmett O’Brien. The three were James Cavanagh, a former councillor who failed to get re-elected in 2009, Richard O’Donoghue who stood but was not elected in the Kilmallock area in 2009 and Seamus Sheahan, who left the party to stand as an independent in 2009 but was not successful. At a convention run on district-lines rather than the electoral area as a whole, James Cavanagh, Seamus Sheahan and Richard O’Donoghue were selected unopposed and without a vote while in the run-off between Kevin Sheahan and Emmett O’Brien, Kevin Sheahan won by five votes.
Party members angry after a chaotic convention, called a second meeting to discuss the issues and have sought a meeting with Michéal Martin, with party secretary Seán Dorgan and with party director of elections Michael Moynihan.
It will be a battle for every vote, but particularly among same-party candidates. Whether the electorate will punish the Government party candidates remains to be seen. And in any case it would not be the first time Fine Gael bucked a national trend in this area. Fine Gael will be hoping to take three seats, Labour will hope its rise in the polls will continue but Fianna Fail will be pushing for three seats.
Independent Pat C Fitzgerald will be a bit squeezed with two Fianna Fail candidates, Seamus Sheahan and Richard O’Donoghue, on his doorstep but both he and Anti-Austerity candidate Kathleen Enright from Pallaskenry could prove to be the big surprises.