TEAM FG Fine Gael candidates in the upcoming local elections are pictured with Minister Michael Ring, TD; Enda Kenny, TD; Senator Paddy Burke and General Electon candidate Alan Dillon after handing in their nomination papers to the Mayo County Council offices in Castlebar last week. Pic: John Moylette
Crowley late addition, while Durcan and Gaffney not on local election ballot
Just 16 percent of the candidates for the local elections this month are female. That percentage was confirmed on Saturday last when nominations for the elections to Mayo County Council closed at noon.
Of the 63 candidates who have declared, only ten are women. Just three of the outgoing 30 members of Mayo County Council are female.
Mayo’s only female TD Lisa Chambers was elected to Mayo County Council five years ago, before being elected to the Dáil in 2016. She says the issue is part of a wider problem of getting people involved in politics full stop.
“I would love to see more women running and more candidates contesting elections overall,” she told The Mayo News last night. “I think local government is at crisis point and all parties are finding it very difficult to get good people to contest elections. A lot of people do one term and walk away.
“The workload is massive, especially since the town councils were abolished. The renumeration isn’t enough either because it is no longer a part-time job, it is a full-time job. If you are working full-time and have a family, it is very hard to fit in being a councillor on top of that.
“Mums and dads do share the parenting role more than ever, but in the early years of kids, it does fall to the mother more often than the father.
“I must say the traditional parties couldn’t be more welcoming to women. My own experience in this regard was so positive. But I do think that if a woman is working full-time and is raising a young family, being involved in politics is a hard ask,” she said.
There were late declarations in the closing days before Saturday, particularly in Castlebar where former Fianna Fáil town councillor Aidan Crowley threw his hat in the ring as an Independent to swell the field there to 17 names.
Cllr Frank Durcan, however, will not be one of them.
The long-serving town and county councillor had kept his intentions quiet in the run-up to the close of nominations, but the deadline came and went without him putting his name forward for another election.
The firebrand one-time Fine Gael councillor was first elected to Castlebar Urban District Council in 1967 and in Mayo County Council in 1974. He stood back from Mayo County Council in 1991 and the town council in 2004 before coming out of retirement ten years ago.
Durcan joins Henry Kenny (Fine Gael), Michael Holmes (Ind) and Gerry Ginty (Aontú) as one of four outgoing councillors not seeking reelection.
Ginty had stood aside in Ballina when Cathy Gaffney threw her name in the hat for Aontú in Ballina earlier this year. However, in a shock development, Gaffney did not declare ahead of the deadline on Saturday at noon.
The Mayo News understands she decided not to go forward at the eleventh hour, leaving the party without a candidate in Ballina.
In total, eight different political parties have representatives standing in Mayo. Fine Gael head the list with 19. Fianna Fáil comes next with 14.
Sinn Féin has five candidates – one in each of the six electoral areas, except for Westport. Aontú and the Green Party each have two candidates running, while the Social Democrats, People Before Profit and Renua each have one candidate going forward.
A total of 18 Independent candidates are running.
The biggest field is in Castlebar, where 17 candidates will contest for seven seats. In Ballina, 12 candidates will go to post for six seats on offer.
Westport sees eleven candidates bidding to win one of four seats, while ten candidates in Claremorris will vie for one of six seats on offer there.
The two smallest areas in terms of population are Belmullet and Swinford. Just six candidates will contest for three seats in Belmullet, with seven in the field for four seats in Swinford.
The local elections take place on Friday, May 24, with 30 seats on Mayo County Council up for grabs.
Ballina Electoral Area (12):
Jarlath Munnelly, John O’Hara, Aileen Horkan, Kieran Gill, all Fine Gael; Annie May Reape, Michael Loftus, Eamon Moore, all Fianna Fáil; Michael Regan, Sinn Féin; Tracey Smith, Social Democrats; Seamus Weir, Mark Duffy, Willie Nolan, all Independent.
Belmullet Electoral Area (6):
Seán Carey, Paul McNamara, both Fianna Fáil; Gerry Coyle, Breege Grealis, both Fine Gael; Teresa Whelan, Sinn Féin; Jay Heneghan, Independent.
Castlebar Electoral Area (17):
Blackie Gavin, Al McDonnell, Martin McLoughlin, all Fianna Fáil; Cyril Burke, Donna Sheridan, Ger Deere, Eugene McCormack, all Fine Gael; Joe McHale, Sinn Féin; Joe Daly, People Before Profit; Kamal Uddin, Labour; Michael Farrington, Renua; Anthony Vesey, Gerry Loftus, Michael Kilcoyne, Harry Barrett, Des Walsh, Aidan Crowley, all Independent.
Claremorris Electoral Area (10):
Michael Carty, Damien Ryan, both Fianna Fáil; Michael Burke, Tom Connolly, John Cribbin, Patsy O’Brien, all Fine Gael; Paul Lawless, Aontú; Natasha Warde, Sinn Féin; Margaret Sheehan, Green Party; Richard Finn, Independent.
Swinford Electoral Area (7):
John Caulfield, Michael Smyth, both Fianna Fáil; Neil Cruise, Tom Lavin, both Fine Gael; Gerry Murray, Sinn Féin; Tommy Horan, Aontú; Seán Forkin, Independent.
Westport Electoral Area (11): Chris Maxwell, Brendan Mulroy, both Fianna Fáil; Peter Flynn, Tereasa McGuire, Austin Francis O’Malley, all Fine Gael; Cissy Nayiga, Green Party; Frank McAlonan, Darragh McGee, Christy Hyland, John (Johno) O’Malley, Shane Fitzgerald, all Independent.