Countdown to local elections gets underway

Local electoral area map.
It may still be the best part of nine months away, but talk is already starting to build ahead of what promises to be one of the most keenly contested local elections for years.

It may still be the best part of nine months away, but talk is already starting to build ahead of what promises to be one of the most keenly contested local elections for years.

Under the pending reform of Local Government, it is planned to create municipal districts in local authority areaas to replace town councils.

In Longford , that means the county will effectively be redrawn into three areas: Longford, Granard and Ballymahon municipal districts.

Six council seats will be allocated to each area, meaning a reduction in Longford’s present allocation of 21 representatives to 18 from next May.

Undoubtedly, the biggest contest will arrive in the main Longford area which will now include Newtownforbes.

At the moment, it boasts seven sitting councillors, three Fine Gael (Cllrs John Browne, Peggy Nolan and Victor Kiernan), two Fianna Fail (Cllrs Padraig Loughrey and Denis Glennon) and two Independents, (Cllrs Paul Connell and Mae Sexton).

Add in at least three current Town Councillors, namely Gerry Warnock, Tony Flaherty and Michael Connellan, as well as a possible fourth candidate in Denis Hughes (FG) and you have 11 names fighting for just six seats.

Both Cllrs Flaherty and Connellan this week confirmed their intention to seek a Fianna Fail nomination, as did Cllr Denis Glennon, while Chamber of Commerce President Seamus Butler is also believed to be interested in regaining his seat of five years ago. At least one new female candidate is expected to run in this area also.

In Granard, it’s perhaps more clear-cut. The two names best placed to take advantage of a redesign that now includes Clonee and Corboy are Cllrs Micheal Carrigy and PJ Reilly. Cllrs Martin Mulleady and John Duffy should also come through but it should be noted that there are strong rumours that a local woman will contest the Fianna Fail seat.

Then there are other potential names to consider in the form of Granard Town Cllr Tommy Stokes, with John Maguire and Maura Kilbride Harkin yet to show their hand.

Whatever the line-up and how that ultimately pans out, May 2014 promises to be the motheof all electoral battles.