Crowded Ashbourne set to be battleground

Story by Tom Kelly

Tuesday, 26th May, 2009 4:10pm

The addition of an extra seat to the Dunshaughlin electoral area may be a saving grace for some sitting councillors who otherwise could be losing out in the Dunshaughlin electoral area on Friday.

Due to the huge increase in population in recent years, an extra seat has been added to the Dunshaughlin electoral area, with the Kells area losing out. Kilmessan village and some of its surrounds, which had previously been included in the Trim electoral area, have been moved over to the Dunshaughlin area, reviving a situation which pertained in the past.

There is a crowded field in the Dunshaughlin area for this election, with two former public representatives trying to regain their seats in the Ashbourne area, joining the six existing councillors all hoping to hold onto their seats.

Ashbourne is one of the most crowded towns in the Dunshaughlin electoral area, with sitting councillors Charles Bobbett, who is now independent, as well as community activist and independent councillor Joe Bonner, will be hoping to hold on, while John Fanning of Fine Gael and Conor Tormey of Fianna Fail will be hoping to regain their seats. On top of that, Labour has two candidates in the area, newcomer Niamh McGowan and veteran of many elections, John King.

Bobbett may well have shot himself in the foot with his procrastination at the time of the Fine Gael convention, which saw the experienced Fanning selected as the party candidate, while Conor Tormey will be hoping that his high profile as chairman of Donaghmore-Ashbourne GAA during the impressive redevelopment of its grounds will be of benefit to him. Niamh McGowan, the Labour candidate here, is also thought to be looking very strong.

Labour has put forward a three-candidate team in the area, with Michael McLoughlin and McGowan running high profile campaigns. They will be hoping to take the extra seat, but with which candidate is the question. McLoughlin has been active in Dunboyne and Dunshaughlin for quite some time. Both have less of a party division of areas than other parties, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Fianna Fail will be hoping to hold onto its three seats, but with which three candidates is the unknown. Nick Killian should be comfortable in Ratoath, although Fine Gael"s former general election candidate Regina Doherty is looking strong. His outburst against his party leader, which may be viewed as populist, was surely unnecessary as his work in the community should be enough to get him elected without resorting to headline-seeking.

Oliver Brooks is facing opposition in Dunshaughlin for the first time, in the form of Gerry O"Connor of Fine Gael, and he will be hoping that whatever he may lose in Dunshaughlin will be balanced out by the introduction of the Kilmessan area. Noel Leonard in Dunboyne is again facing Maria Murphy, a former independent now wearing a Fine Gael hat.

Cllr Brian Fitzgerald will also welcome the introduction of new areas around Kilmessan and Kiltale, and he should be re-elected, while the Green Party runner Sean O"Buachalla is active in the Dunboyne and Ratoath communities, and is involved in the local gaelscoil with Regina Doherty.

There could be musical chairs in Fianna Fail, depending on who is ahead in the early stages. If the FF vote holds up, Brooks and Tormey could be battling for a final seat, while Fine Gael could hope for two. Brian Fitzgerald should also be back. Then, there will be an almightly scramble for that new and final seat.

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