Sligo profile: Focus on bread-and-butter issues

Constituency profile: Political observers slow to make predictions after changes

Issues such as water charges, unemployment, housing needs and medical cards are top of the agenda with Sligo voters.

The abolition of the 12-seat borough council and a cut in seats from 25 to 18 on Sligo County Council have created an air of uncertainty, with many political observers slow to make too many predictions.

A total of 37 candidates are running – 23 will be on the ballot paper in the new 10-seater Sligo electoral area while 14 are chasing the eight seats in Ballymote-Tobercurry, among them a former TD (Eamon Scanlon) and a former Sligo footballer (Paul Taylor), both for Fianna Fáil.

No candidate wants to be described as a dead cert, but everyone expects Margaret Gormley, a sitting county councillor for almost 34 years, and Declan Bree, who has spent four decades on the now defunct borough council and the county council, to romp home. Outgoing Independents Michael Clarke and Veronica Cawley have a battle ahead, but like Labour's Jimmy McGarry they are definite contenders.


Sinn Féin's Sean MacManus is seen as a sure thing and in fact his Collooney-based colleague Thomas Healy could take a second seat for that party in the Sligo municipal area. A strong Independent-SF grouping could be on the cards.


Fine Gael held the balance of power in the outgoing council with 12 seats, but is bracing itself for at best a sharp reprimand from voters.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will be lucky to get more than six each elected to the 18-strong council.

While the Lissadell right-of-way row is not a burning issue, voters are conscious of the colossal legal bill looming and fear the implications for property tax.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, in Sligo last Monday, insisted that fears for the future of maternity services in the local hospital were unfounded. However, Fianna Fáil has upped the ante on this issue, with local Senator Marc MacSharry claiming a confidential report to Government suggests this is an option.

Fianna Fáil's Martin Baker, a former poll topper, has a tough fight on his hands but will succeed if he and former TD Eamon Scanlon carve up the territory properly in Ballymote-Tobercurry.

In Sligo, the smart money is on solicitor Tom MacSharry , a nephew of former European commissioner Ray MacSharry, with party colleague Rosaleen O’Grady also widely tipped.

Fine Gael is running six candidates, including four sitting councillors, in the Sligo area – at least one too many. Solicitor Sinead Maguire may benefit from being a fresh face.

In Ballymote-Tobercurry a key question will be the destiny of Margaret Gormley's surplus. Sitting FG councillors Gerard Mullaney, Michael Fleming and Dara Mulvey may be the party's best hopes here.

A victory for Eamon Scanlon won't be seen as a sign that his party has been forgiven for the long lamented transfer of cancer services from Sligo Regional Hospital on its watch.

Full list of candidates

Electoral Area Name Party
Ballymote-Tobercurry Gormley, Margaret (Ind)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Feeney, Blair (FG)
Ballymote-Tobercurry McGrath, Pat (FG)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Fleming, Michael (FG)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Mullaney, Gerard (FG)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Mulvey, Dara (FG)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Scanlon, Eamonn (FF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Lundy, Jerry (FF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Baker, Martin (FF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Taylor, Paul (FF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Queenan, Joe (FF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Tuffy, Mary (Ind)
Ballymote-Tobercurry McCarrick, Edward Stephen (SF)
Ballymote-Tobercurry Clarke, Michael (Ind)
Sligo Maguire, Sinead (FG)
Sligo Gilmartin, James (FG)
Sligo Collery, Thomas (FG)
Sligo Keaney, Hubert (FG)
Sligo Lyons, Matt (FG)
Sligo Cawley, David (FG)
Sligo McGarry, Jim (Lab)
Sligo McSharry, Tom  (FF)
Sligo Gilroy, Donal (FF)
Sligo Kilgannon, Seamus (FF)
Sligo O'Grady, Rosaleen (FF)
Sligo Healy, Thomas (SF)
Sligo Cham, Kebba (Ind)
Sligo Bree, Declan (Ind)
Sligo O'Boyle, Seamus (PBP)
Sligo McGarry, Marcella (Lab)
Sligo Cadden, Francis (Ind)
Sligo Higgins, James (FN)
Sligo MacManus, Sean (SF)
Sligo Casserly, Marie (Ind)
Sligo Cawley, Veronica (Ind)
Sligo Butler, Martina (Ind)
Sligo Gardiner, Patricia (Ind)
Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland