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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Local Election Campaign Wexford ‘09

Our official campaign to retain 5 seats on Wexford Borough Council starts this Tuesday. It’s a bigger job now than 5 years ago, then there were less candidates and a smaller area, now there’s more candidates and an area the size of the functional area of Cork City Council and 20,000 residents with 15,000 almost on the register. Myself, Ted Howlin, George Lawlor, Davy Hynes and SIPTU South East Vice Chairperson Theresa Walsh will carry the flag for Labour. Fianna Fail have yet to finalise their team with less than 5 weeks to go to polling but my sources in the party tell me that Cllr Paddy Nolan, Church Sacristan Colin Murphy and Cllr Fergie Kehoe will have 2 running mates in retired TD, school Principal and Barntown resident Tony Dempsey as well as publican and businessman Bobby O’Neill. FG will run outgoing councillors Anna Fenlon, Phil Roche with popular traffic warden Pat Sheridan and businessman Jim Allen. Sinn Fein run Ann Hogan alongside outgoing member Anthony Kelly while Danny Forde of the Greens will be hoping to gain a seat after losing by just one vote after 3 days of counting in 2004 to my Labour colleague Tommy Carr.
The pressure will be on Independent Fianna Fail Councillor Padge Reck to top the poll one more while newcomer Willie Furlong will have his first outing after being co-opted to replace his father a year ago. There will be at least 2 other independents; Richie “Dodo” Lawlor and Ger Rossiter. Richie is a former member of the Labour Party. My Fianna Fail source tells me had over 300 people at his campaign launch and over 40 at a recent supporters meeting. In light of this development I now suspect one candidate who promoted Dodo in his tabloid free sheet column must now regret encouraging him to seek election as clearly Dodo challenges for the head of the poll. Anything else would presumably be a huge disappointment. There’s also the possibility of Jim Breen running as the independent Horse Whisperer candidate to highlight his grievance against the HSE. So it could be 22 whereas last time around it was 19. Nominations open on May 9th and close a week later so who’s to know who else will come out of the woodwork. Its good to see more candidates and it makes for a long and interesting count, hopefully not as long as in 2004 when Wexford Borough was one of just 3 elections counting when a final declaration was made.

I’ll refrain from making any predictions because lets face it I’m biased, and to make a prediction you’ve got to be impartial. However, it’s hard to put yourself up for election particularly a local election. I genuinely believe Labour can hold their 5 seats because in 2004 we won 5 seats off the back of 11% of the national vote and now Labour has 19% in opinion polls. So its possible for me and my 4 running mates to hold on, however all politics are local and no one knows until the ballot boxes are opened and then it’s too late! I've more to do than make a prediction, I'll work hard to get myself back, all others can sort themselves out!!

Finally, my colleague Tommy Carr and FF councillor Gus Byrne retire on June 5th. I’ve spoken about Tommy at the selection conference and Gus when he announced is retirement at the April meeting. It’s easy to have a cut at a local politician however these 2 men have been in local politics in Wexford for a long time. They typify what local politics is about, representing the people and wanting the best for their town. Both have poured oil on troubled waters in the past, in their absence who’ll do the needful?

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