Kells Town Council/Electoral Area analysis

Story by Ann Casey

Tuesday, 26th May, 2009 4:15pm

Casualties are to be expected in the Kells electoral area election, where the number of seats have been cut from six to five as a result of the recent boundary changes.

The current six councillors include three from Fianna Fail: former TD and senator Cllr Michael Lynch, who has been a member of the council since 1967; Athboy"s Cllr Liz McCormack and Cllr Bryan Reilly from Kells.

The other three seats are held by veteran councillor John Farrelly, Cllr Eugene Cassidy for Fine Gael and Cllr Michael Gallagher of Sinn Fein, the poll-topper in the 2004 election.

Fianna Fail"s Cllr Lynch, from Oldcastle, is not running this time, leaving a big gap in the Fianna Fail team. However, they do have long-standing councillors with good track records in Liz McCormack and Bryan Reilly.

Carlanstown businessman Dominic Moran, who polled well in 2004, is also considered a strong candidate, as is Oliver Fox, an Oldcastle businessman who should benefit from the strong vote Michael Lynch enjoyed in that area of north Meath.

However, the recent terrible poll performances of FF, combined with one less seat to fill and the loss of a very strong vote-getter, could mean they would do well to hold onto two seats.

Nonetheless, Fianna Fail director of elections Michael Thompson says they have a plan in place to hold onto the three seats. 'It will not be easy and it will be a tough battle, but the candidates have been getting a fairly good response and we are hopeful of three seats,' he said.

Other sources within Fianna Fail say that, on a good day, they could possibly hold onto three seats. Their candidates are not finding the drop in support out there that some polls are suggesting, but many within the party accept that to take three out of five seas in the current climate is a pretty big ask.

Fine Gael, which currently has two sitting councillors, John Farrelly and Eugene Cassidy, will be hoping to take a third seat this time.

The rising popularity of the party and the strength of their three-man team means there is a possibility they could gain a seat, but with one less seat to fight for, this could also prove to be a very difficult task.

John Farrelly and Eugene Cassidy both have strong personal support while the third candidate, Catherine Yore, a very well-known musician and teacher, could well win the younger and female vote, and is said to be creating quite a stir among younger voters.

Sources within the party said FG is very aware there is one less seat and a lot depends on how bad Fianna Fail"s drop in support will be, but they are playing for three seats.

Michael Gallagher, who topped the poll for Sinn Fein in 2004, will be hoping to consolidate his position and is expected to hold onto his seat, while Labour"s Brian Collins, the popular Mayor of Kells, is also well-placed to be in the shake-up for the last seat if the Fianna Fail vote does collapse.

Kells Town Council

The battle for Kells Town Council will be a closely-fought contest with 16 candidates in the running for nine seats.

The current state of play is that four seats are held by Fianna Fail"s Bryan Reilly, Sean Drew, Peter Caffrey and Eamonn (AO) Farrelly, with Oliver Sweeney holding just one seat for Fine Gael.

Labour holds two seats, those of long-serving councillor Tommy Grimes and current cathaoirleach, Brian Collins. Sinn Fein"s Conor Ferguson and veteran independent, Brian Curran, also hold a seat each. All bar two of the sitting councillors are up for re-election - those stepping down this year are AO Farrelly and Peter Caffrey.

Fine Gael will be hoping to make gains this year with four candidates in the running, but sources within the party believe they can win three seats, which would be a gain of two.

The party was unlucky last time round, winning 18.9 per cent of the poll but only taking the one seat with outgoing councillor Seamus Grimes losing his seat. The party predicts he will see a triumphant return, along with Cllr Sweeney and another of their two candidates.

John Callaghan and Sarah Reilly are the other two FG candidates in the race and, while both are proving strong candidates, Ms Reilly with extensive local connections is considered a favourite to take a third seat for Fine Gael.

Fianna Fail sources say the party is hopeful of holding onto four seats and have five candidates in the race: Cllrs Bryan Reilly and Sean Drew, AO Farrelly"s brother, Fergal Farrelly, Hugh Morris and Frankie Lynch. However, with poor poll figures and the loss of two popular sitting councillors, this would seem to be an uphill task.

Added to that is the emergence of an independent candidate from within the Fianna Fail ranks. Thomas (Tossie) Geraghty was one of those interviewed by party headquarters for a Fianna Fail nomination and who is dissatisfied with the procedure.

He is likely to seriously hurt the Fianna Fail vote as he is backed by at least two other former interviewees.

Labour is hopeful of holding its two seats, thanks to the party"s rising popularity and the two sitting councillors proving popular and strong candidates, but they did take the two seats against the odds in 2004 with just 13 per cent of the vote.

Sinn Fein"s Conor Ferguson topped the poll in 2004 and has been joined this year by Philip Heary who could be in line to benefit from any slide in the Fianna Fail vote.

Independent Brian Curran, who was first elected in 1994, has been consolidating his position over the years and should comfortably hold his seat. Republican Sinn Fein is running a candidate in Kells, Peter Fitzsimons, for the first time ever, but he will have an uphill battle to pick up votes in what is likely to be a very tightly fought contest.

SHARE