Speculation is mounting in south Longford this week over who will take the seat on Longford County Council, which was occupied for sixteen years by Cllr Paddy Belton (FG) - whose untimely death last month sent shockwaves throughout the community.
It was Cllr Belton’s brother Louis J who held the seat prior to that, but having been elected a TD in the Longford/Roscommon constituency in 1997, Cllr Belton was co-opted onto the seat before finally securing it in the subsequent local elections in 1999.
Needless to say, that seat has been at the heart of the community in Kenagh for a long number of years thus, and speculators envisage that the locals will not be keen to give it up too easily. The Leader understands that the Fine Gael party is due to hold a special meeting locally, to discuss the matter in the coming days.
As speculation mounts, the Leader also understands that former local area representative in Lanesboro, Adie Farrell has indicated his interest in the late Paddy Belton’s seat. The late Cllr Belton’s nephew Louis has also been mentioned as has 24-year-old Colm Murray and Jimmy O’Meara - a native of Kenagh and a man well known in local GAA circles.
“There is a lot of whispering at the moment,” one speculator told the Leader. “The favourite runner at the moment is Colm Murray, and he is from Kenagh. Certainly it would be fair to say that there would be a determination by the people of Kenagh to hold on to the seat that Paddy held for so long.”
The Fine Gael executive is expected to hold a meeting in respect of the matter this week, however as another speculator said, “a dark horse could also enter the race at this stage as well - so who knows”.
“Nobody ever expected a situation like this to arise,” he added. “Paddy died so suddenly and he will be sorely missed by alot of people. Paddy Belton cared about everyone, and Kenagh and Longford are what mattered most to him.”