BACK FOR MORE Austin Francis O’Malley is pictured back in 2011 after being elected as Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council with, from left: John Condon, County Secretary; Cllr Michael Burke and Peter Hynes, County Manager. Pic: Tom Campbell
Former Mayo County Councillor, Austin Francis O’Malley, who lost his seat at the last local elections, has confirmed he will seek to win it back, as he believes Louisburgh has lost out for the lack of representation.
The former Fine Gael councillor was one of the big losers during the 2014 local elections having been a councillor for ten years, which included a term as Cathaoirleach, before he was ousted.
The Louisburgh native told The Mayo News on Monday that he always planned to win back the seat after his defeat and will seek a nomination at the Fine Gael convention. He said that the Louisburgh area has lost out because they have been left without a local councillor for the last five years.
“Since I was ousted at the last election, it has always been my plan to go again. I think the Louisburgh area has really missed out on not having a local representative which it always had until 2014. Any area that is not represented is going to lose out. The people in the area know they need a representative and ever since I lost my seat I have received calls from people asking me to get things done and I had no difficulty doing that,” he said.
Having been a councillor for ten years, Mr O’Malley said he was naturally disappointed to lose his seat in the tenth count after gaining 1,004 first preference votes. He said the burning issues in the area which needs addressing are the poor broadband speed and mobile phone service.
In 2014, the new West Mayo Municipal District consisted of seven seats and returned just three candidates from the old Westport Electoral Area, while the remaining four were from the old Belmullet Electoral Area.
Next May’s election will see the return of the Belmullet and Westport Electoral Areas with four seats up for grabs in the Westport area, compared to three in Belmullet. Mr O’Malley believes this will give him a better chance of winning back his seat.
“To expect a guy from Belmullet to represent someone down in Leenane did not make sense and restoring the Westport and Belmullet Electoral Areas makes more sense. There are four seats available in Westport and I will have a greater base available to me now. Tereasa McGuire is the sitting [Fine Gael] councillor and it is up to whoever else wants to put their hat in the ring. I just want to make it known that I will be up and running,” he explained.
A date for the Fine Gael section convention has not been set but is expected to take place before the end of January at the latest. The other current sitting Westport councillors are Brendan Mulroy (FF) and Christy Hyland (Ind) and speculation will be mounting in the coming weeks as to who will be joining them seeking election.