A hung Chamber!
The days of one party having even a sniff of an overall majority in the Council chamber are gone – probably for all time.
There was a time, admittedly a long time ago, when Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael took it in turn to dominate Roscommon Council Chamber. That was before this annoying (to them) Independents’ phenomenon came along!
True enough, overall majorities were not that common in recent times, but you could usually expect Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to at least get within one or two votes of having a majority, meaning they could strike a deal with one or a handful of Independents.
In 2014, the number of councillors on Roscommon County Council was reduced to eighteen. Fianna Fáil had eight councillors elected, while Fine Gael had a bad outing on that occasion, returning just three councillors. Since 2014, Paddy Kilduff and Ivan Connaughton have jumped off the FF ship, meaning the party has just six outgoing councillors (with Rachel Doherty now retiring).
The modest extent of Fine Gael’s ambition this time around is sobering for the party faithful. Fine Gael failed to attract a second candidate in the Roscommon Area, where Gerry Coffey is their sole runner. The party is running just six candidates countywide, and targeting five seats.
Fianna Fáil is running nine candidates. Realistically, their target is six seats (with a very slim chance of seven, and no guarantee at all of six!).
Therefore, with ten votes needed to command a Council majority, once the count is over, it will be straight into the former smoke-filled rooms, with the ‘big’ parties talking to numerous Independents/ Sinn Féin about a five-year Coalition deal.
The facts and figures
Thirty-three candidates will contest the local elections in County Roscommon (polling day is Friday, 24th of May next). There are eighteen council seats available, six each in the three electoral areas – i.e. Athlone, Boyle and Roscommon Municipal Areas.
There are just four female candidates: Sitting councillors Valerie Byrne, Orla Leyden and Kathleen Shanagher, and first-time candidate Mary O’Donnell (Independent, Boyle Area).
Fianna Fáil are running nine candidates, Fine Gael six, and Sinn Féin three. Remarkably, there will be fifteen Independent candidates.
Ming and Brendan…
From the Midlands North West constituency debate on Tonight Show (Virgin Media) on Tuesday night:
Brendan Smith (FF): “I tell the truth all the time, Ming, unlike some other public representatives…”
Ming: “Who? Bertie Ahern, is it? Ever hear of him, did you? We all heard of him!”
‘Local’ constituency in profile on Sunday
Renowned journalist Carole Coleman, who famously rattled President George W. Bush when she interviewed him in the White House, had a much easier interview when she called into the Roscommon People office last week.
Carole has interviewed all 17 candidates in the Midlands North West constituency in the upcoming European elections. She also had a chat with yours truly to get my perspective on what might happen.
Her constituency report will be broadcast during a special This Week programme live from Galway on RTE Radio One this Sunday at 1 pm, when Carole will be joined by a guest panel.
John enters race
If at first you don’t succeed…
Tulsk farmer John Groarke is certainly determined to get on a ballot paper and give people an opportunity to vote for him.
Mr. Groarke was seen as a novelty would-be candidate when he announced last July that he wanted to be President of Ireland.
When John addressed Roscommon County Council (seeking a nomination to run for President) he made as good a case as many others did. However, he was unable to secure a nomination, and his ‘15 minutes of fame’ passed.
Then last month, John told Shannonside Radio that he intended to run in the European elections. However, instead of a Euro bid, he’s now switched his focus to the local elections. Wrong-footing all declared candidates last week, John quietly lodged his nomination papers, and the Tulsk man will be an Independent candidate in Roscommon Municipal Area on May 24th.