Local elections will be keenly contested in new Limerick council constituency

Discord over national interference at selection conventions have affected parties’ preparations

Discord  over national interference at selection conventions and some untimely exits from political life have affected parties’ preparations for this summer’s local elections in the redrawn Limerick constituencies. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

Discord over national interference at selection conventions and some untimely exits from political life have affected parties’ preparations for this summer’s local elections in the redrawn Limerick constituencies. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons.

 

Discord over national interference at selection conventions and some untimely exits from political life have affected parties’ preparations for this summer’s local elections in the redrawn Limerick constituencies.

The creation of the new unified Limerick local authority has seen the number of public representatives for the region reduced from 45 to 40. The boundary commission recommended 21 councillors for the three new city constituencies, with the remaining 19 in the three county areas.

The larger metropolitan area with a population of 100,000, means four extra councillors representing the city.

However the elected representatives will serve a vastly increased electoral area stretching out as far as Patrickswell, Castleconnell and Montpellier.

At present Fine Gael has the upper hand on both local authorities in particular on Limerick County Council where it has 15 of the 28 seats.

Fianna Fáil which was almost completely wiped out in the city in 2009 securing just one of the 17 seats on Limerick City Council is determined to make a comeback across all electoral areas.

In the Rathkeale/Adare electoral area the party is fielding four candidates. Three were added to the ticket to join sitting Councillor Kevin Sheahan who was selected following a run off with National Executive member and barrister Emmet O’Brien who lost out by five votes.

In the Cappamore/Kilmallock area the four sitting councillors were all eventually added to the ticket but initially only one sitting Councillor Eddie Ryan was selected.

First time candidate Yvonne McMahon, secretary to Willie O’Dea has been selected to run for the party in City North while Joe Crowley has also been added to the ticket in this electoral area.

Fine Gael has been faced with challenges of its own as the party has lost a number of high profile sitting councillors due to illness, death and retirement.

Former Mayor Ger Fahy (60) recently confirmed he is to retire from politics. One of Fine Gael’s longest-serving County Councillors, David Naughton, who has served as a public representative for the Rathkeale area since 1991, has also decided not to contest the elections. Sitting Councillor Cormac Hurley has also confirmed he will not be seeking re-election,

Former Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Cllr Mary Harty, only the third woman to hold the office, has also been forced to bow out due to her ongoing struggle with motor neurone disease. Danny Butler, the son of former Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council Cllr Richard Butler, who died in December has been added to the ticket in City West.

The party has chosen to run six candidates in this seven seater constituency which is will be an interesting battle ground. Fianna Fáil will be hoping to make gains with sitting Councillor and local publican Cllr James Collins confident of retaining his seat, albeit in a City electoral area. The party has also added former Garda Detective Sean Lynch to the ticket in City West along with auctioneer Geraldine Leddin.

Labour Councillor Orla McLoughlin did not seek her party’s nomination to the ticket in City East. Her father, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, the former Irish rugby International, quit the Labour party last year during his mayoralty and is likely to seek re-election along with other sitting Independent Cllrs John Gilligan, and Pat Kennedy.

Labour is still weak in the county but sitting Councillor Joe Leddin is confident of reelection despite choosing to run in City West alongside Tomas Hannon who is from the suburbs. Labour also has high hopes for Moldovan national Elena Secas, who is running City East.

In Limerick City North, the only totally urban constituency, covering Coonagh, Caherdavin, St Mary’s Park and Corbally, Labour has picked councillor Tom Shortt as its only candidate. Stephen Goulding has been added to the ticket in Newcastlewest.

Sinn Fein remains committed to fielding candidates in all electoral areas but so far the party has just selected sitting City Councillor Maurice Quinlivan (City North), and 21-year-old Seighin O’Ceallaigh (City East). Martin Ferris’s personal assistant Seamus Browne has been added to the ticket in Newcastlewest.

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