Speculation rife about an Achill-based FG candidate
Independent county councillor Christy Hyland has confirmed he is standing for the local elections this May.
The Westport-based retired Garda was first elected to the county council five years ago after serving as a town councillor for five years before that.
“I’m standing on my record as a hardworking councillor,” Cllr Hyland said.
Cllr Hyland joins Fine Gael rivals – he was a Fine Gael town councillor before leaving the party – Cllr Tereasa McGuire, Peter Flynn and Austin Francis O’Malley and Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Brendan Mulroy in the declared field.
However, it appears likely Fianna Fáil could add at least one more candidate to the field in the four-seat Westport Electoral Area.
Meanwhile in Achill speculation is growing as to who might stand for Fine Gael, against outgoing Cllr Paul McNamara of Fianna Fáil.
In 2014 Mulranny-based Achill native Breege Grealis was on the ticket, polling just over 500 votes. Joe Fadian from Bunnacurry in Achill went forward to the party selection convention in 2014 too but withdrew when a registration issue meant Achill Fine Gael members were unable to vote.
Other names mentioned in Achill as prospective candidates include Eanna Kilbane, Tommy English and Emmet Callaghan.
Kilbane, son of former long-serving councillor Pat, is considered a strong candidate. Based in Achill but teaching in Belmullet, he has the potential to draw votes across a wider base than most candidates.
From Dooagh, English is a former member of Enda Kenny’s staff and currently works for Retail Excellence Ireland.
Callaghan is also from Dooagh and works for Achill Tourism and is actively involved in the local Fine Gael branch.
Another name linked with running is Tiernaur based Pat Chambers. A sheep farmer, he is heavily involved in the IFA. With outgoing Cllr Michael Holmes retiring, there is an opportunity for someone in that area to step forward. Where will Holmes’ votes go is a question all political strategists will be trying to answer.
Chambers’ candidacy may be weakened by the fact he is only a few short miles from the border with the newly drawn Westport electoral area at Burrishoole Bridge. Therefore, many of those who may wish to vote for him will be unable to do so.
Were he to go forward, would Fine Gael put a candidate forward in Achill as well?
An either/or scenario looks more likely as two candidates in such close proximity might be counter-productive unless vote management is top class.
Cllr Gerry Coyle will stand for the party in Erris and it remains to be seen if Fine Gael will run a second candidate in the barony.
A Fine Gael selection convention for the Erris/Achill area is set to take place in the coming weeks but no date has been announced as of yet.