FIANNA Fail appear far from a beaten docket in County Limerick judging from the numbers scrambling to get on the ticket for the local elections.
The two largest political parties are due to hold selection conventions in the coming weeks as they bid to win control of the new-look local authority in 2014.
Fine Gael aims to have its local election line-up complete in advance of Enda Kenny taking the rostrum for the party’s national conference at the South Court in Raheen on October 11. And although no dates have been set, Fianna Fail hopes to have its selection conventions wrapped up by the end of September.
No fewer than six potential candidates are thought to interested in joining FF’s Cllr Kevin Sheahan for a run at the new-look Adare-Rathkeale electoral area with the Askeaton councillor saying the party should aim to take three of the six seats up for grabs.
They are former councillors James Cavanagh in Adare and Michael Mulcair in Croagh; Seamus Sheahan in Croom; Emmett O’Brien in Pallaskenry; Mary Carroll in Ballingarry and Richard O’Donoghue in Granagh.
“At the moment, we have only one sitting councillor and that’s mé féin and we have to do whatever is right to increase the representation for Fianna Fail,” said Cllr Sheahan.
“It would be fair to think we could double that but I would like to think there is the opportunity to make it three. We have an unpopular government and I acknowledge that we are not flavour of the month either but we have the chance to make it three.”
Fianna Fail HQ, he said, had already spoken of the need to run candidates from “centres of population” which could augur well for the hopes of Mr Cavanagh in Adare and Mr Sheahan in Croom.
Such a requirement could work against Mr O’Brien, a barrister from Pallaskenry, but Cllr Sheahan would not be drawn on suggestions he would oppose having another candidate so close to his base in Askeaton.
“I’m not suggesting to anybody what they should or shouldn’t do. I haven’t a clue what advice or diktat could come down from party headquarters before a convention. But it is marvellous there is so much interest and it will give our members at convention a great choice,” he said.
Fine Gael, Cllr Sheahan said, would have a strong team running in Adare-Rathkeale with sitting councillors Stephen Keary and Rose Brennan seeking re-election.
Fine Gael sources this week said Cllr David Naughton was undecided on whether he would seek another term while former councillor Tom Neville, currently in Australia, is also being mentioned as somebody who could make a return to politics.
Meanwhile, county council chairman John Sheahan is thought more likely to contest in the Newcastle West rather than the Adare-Rathkeale area but has still not confirmed this.
Looking to win back the seat he lost in 2004 is Fianna Fail’s Seamus Ahern as the redraw of the Newcastle West area has reunited his Athea voter base.
Fine Gael’s poll-topping Cllr Leo Walsh, meanwhile, whose political base was split three ways in the boundary changes, will decide next week whether he will run in Adare or in Limerick City East.
With Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon the only Fianna Fail councillor in the Limerick City Council area, the party is looking to freshen up its line-up in the three metropolitan wards.
In the ultra-competitive eight-seater of Limerick City East, where as many as five sitting Fine Gael councillors could run, Cllr O’Hanlon could be joined on the FF ticket by Mulgrave Street publican Jerry O’Dea and Ballysimon’s Jim Hickey. A candidate from the Castleconnell end of the ward may also be sought.
Yvonne McMahon, secretary to Willie O’Dea TD, could run with Joe Crowley and Christy Mcinerney on the northside.
And Cllrs Leonard Enright and James Collins could be joined in Limerick City West by LIT lecturer Darragh Naughton and auctioneer Geraldine Leddin, who said she would decide in the next week whether or not she would go to convention.