In one of the most significant political moves in the constituency in a number of years, former Independent councillor John Kelly from Ballaghaderreen was unveiled as the new Labour Party candidate for the next general election at a press conference at Hannonís Hotel, Roscommon on Monday.
The press conference was chaired by former Boyle Town Councillor Willie Tiernan and Cllr. Kelly and Labour Party leader Deputy Eamon Gilmore answered questions from party members and from members of the local media.
Cllr. Kelly ran in the last general election with the support of the HAC and garnered a very respectable 4,539 votes. In the 2009 local elections he was the biggest vote-getter in the county, grabbing over two quotas while sweeping to victory in the Castlerea/Ballaghaderreen electoral area.
Cllr. John Kelly has also served as Mayor of Roscommon County Council in the past and he is a member of several local community organisations in the Ballaghaderreen area. John Kelly works a community welfare officer and is married to Brid. The couple have three children.
The Labour Party are now hoping that Cllr. Kelly can win a seat in a constituency in which the late Jack McQuillan held a seat from 1951 to 1969.
However despite the party having had a presence on Boyle Town Council over the years they have not made any huge in-roads in any election locally in recent times. Hugh Baxter from Ballyleague ran for the party in local, general and European elections, but without ultimate success. The party will have to develop support here, particularly in South Leitrim and South Roscommon, if it is to build on the popularity that Councillor Kelly enjoys personally.
Speaking to the media on Monday, Cllr. Kelly and the Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore both expressed their strong hopes that they would be in with a real chance of taking a seat in Roscommon/South Leitrim at the next general election.