Galway city profile: There could be a dogfight in each of three wards
Constituency profile: Boundary revisions have seen the east ward lose a chunkto the central ward
Galway may be the State’s most ethnically diverse city, with several “new Irish” candidates standing in 2005 and 2009, but that rich cultural mix is not reflected in lamp post literature this time round.
Several outgoing councillors have forged close links with immigrant communities, yet it had been expected the increase in city council seats from 15 to 18 might have encouraged a more concerted attempt for non-national representation.
Lack of awareness about eligibility to vote, lack of integration, and a “fear” factor within some of the more vulnerable minority groupings are perceived to be influences.
Even before the lively lime-green posters for non-candidate Edvard Hund – championing the “under-dog” – began competing for space this week, there was a consensus that there would be a dogfight in every one of the three wards, represented by a cross-party and Independent mix since 2009.
Boundary revisions have affected two of the three wards, with the east losing a chunk of its area to the city centre, while the sprawling west sees no change.
In Galway City East four sitting councillors are among 12 candidates nominated for six seats.
Labour Party councillor Tom Costello is retiring after over 20 years on the local authority, but his party still has two candidates here – sitting councillor Nuala Nolan and senior library assistant Monica Coughlan.
Former Progressive Democrat-now-Independent duo Terry O’Flaherty (Ind) and Declan McDonnell (Ind) are hoping to repeat their 2009 poll-topping performance in the east ward.
Fine Gael is fielding three candidates – lecturer John Rabbitte, home-maker Margo Kelly and medical company professional John Walsh, whose brother Brian Walsh is a TD.
Fianna Fáil’s sitting councillor Michael Crowe has auctioneer Alan Cheevers as a running mate.
If there is a Sinn Féin bounce it will benefit Mairead Farrell (24), the youngest candidate and a member of her party’s ardcomhairle.
Non-party businessman Noel Larkin and Anti-Austerity Alliance candidate Conor Burke complete the line-up in an area of the city which extends from Mervue and the Murrogh to Wellpark and Ballybane.
The boundary changes influenced sitting Fine Gael councillor Frank Fahy’s move to the City Central ward. The taxi driver, who was co-opted to fill the vacancy left by Brian Walsh’s election to the Dáil, has been supportive of local Menlo issues, such as its mature woodlands extending to Doughuisce.
However, he is in a very crowded field, with party colleague and current city mayor Pádraig Conneely among five sitting councillors and 10 others competing for six seats.
Labour postmaster Billy Cameron has been hampered by a back injury, but is hoping to be returned along with party colleague Colette Connolly, while seafood retail worker John McDonagh is also on the party ticket.
Fianna Fáil publican and sitting councillor Ollie Crowe is running with Nicola Deacy, who claimed recent damage to windows at her campaign headquarters in Shantalla was “politically motivated”.
Green Party agriculture, food and marine spokesman-cum-cheesemonger Séamus Sheridan enjoys a national profile, has ideas for a city-based fresh food market, and has been vocal in opposing Bord Iascaigh Mhara plans for a fish farm in the bay.
However, some of his city central rivals believe that bread-and-butter issues dominate this campaign, with catering assistant Kiran Emrich of the People Before Profit Alliance and carpark attendant Seán Byrne of the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) focusing on this vote.