A BATTLE royale is in store north of the Shannon with as many as eight sitting city councillors potentially slugging it out for six seats in Limerick City North.
The only wholly urban electoral area in the city, the area currently has no Fianna Fail councillor - and it is surely unthinkable that between them Joe Crowley, Christy McInerney and Yvonne McMahon won’t win at least one seat on the northside next May.
Mr Crowley and Mr McInerney both ran in 2009 and got an early start to their campaigns through being appointed official area representatives by Micheal Martin.
Ms McMahon is the only confirmed female candidate for Fianna Fail in the city and, as secretary to Deputy Willie O’Dea, she could have another ace up her sleeve if the famed O’Dea machine gets out behind her.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Cormac Hurley has retired from politics but well-known GAA figure Timmy O’Connor, a first-time candidate, is expected to pick up much of his vote.
With proven vote-getters Cllr Michael Hourigan and Cllr Denis McCarthy also on the ticket, Fine Gael looks to have a strong geographical spread across the electoral area.
Former mayor Kevin Kiely did not contest the selection convention but may yet be added. Should he decide not to seek re-election, this could open the door for Kileely shopkeeper John Moloney to run for Fine Gael.
There are three strong outgoing independent councillors in John Gilligan, Mayor Kathleen Leddin and Gerry McLoughlin.
Labour’s Cllr Joe Leddin said this week that Cllr McLoughlin had sought to rejoin the Labour Party he left in acrimonious circumstances in May. But Cllr McLoughlin told the Leader he intended to seek re-election as an independent but expressed his admiration for all those working in the Labour Party who “have done a great job steadying the ship”.
This leaves Cllr Tom Shortt as the sole Labour candidate on the northside. Cllr Shortt’s role in the negotiations leading to Gerry McLoughlin’s election as a Labour mayor meant the relationship between the two was particularly strained and they were unlikely to prove a cohesive team going into the local elections.
Labour’s job on the northside has been made more difficult by the strong electoral performances in recent years of Sinn Fein’s Cllr Maurice Quinlivan.
He is the only candidate confirmed for Sinn Fein to date but once conventions are held early in the new year, there should be a Sinn Fein name on every ballot paper in the city come next May 22.
Two candidates have been confirmed to run for the Anti-Austerity Allowance.
Cian Prendiville is a member of the Socialist Party who has been active in the campaign against property taxes and water charges.
Mary Hartery is also to run on the northside on the anti-austerity platform.