TALKING SHOP Minister Michael Ring at the count centre in Castlebar at the weekend in conversation with John McHugh and Cllr Patsy O’Brien. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Fine Gael are on course to take three out of the four seats in Mayo in the next general election. That’s according to Minister Michael Ring, who is bullish about the party’s chances in the wake of the local and European elections.
Fine Gael gained two seats on Mayo County Council and looks set to take two of the four European seats in the Midlands North West constituency, with counting continuing in Castlebar today (Tuesday).
“It has been a tremendous election for Fine Gael in Mayo,” Minister Ring told The Mayo News last night. “We had ten outgoing councillors, and we have returned 12 and could have got 14. Add in the fact that three Independent councillors, Christy Hyland, John O’Malley and Seamus Weir, are from the Fine Gael gene pool and it has been a fantastic election.
“The biggest success was taking four out of six seats in Claremorris. At European level we are on course to take two seats in Midlands North West.
“Our performance in Midlands North West shows we are delivering in rural Ireland. This government might be getting a lot of criticism from the national media, but the people on the ground see what’s going on, and in rural areas Fine Gael did really well.”
And he says the success locally and in the European elections could be the platform for taking three seats in the general election.
“If the organisation rallies around for the general election like we did for the locals, and like we got behind Maria Walsh, when you see we have 12 councillors and three more from the Fine Gael gene pool, then we can take three seats in Mayo. We are on course for three seats,” he said.
However, there has been some internal tensions in the party this week. Cllr Patsy O’Brien, who got the highest-ever vote in the history of Mayo County Council with 2,955 votes, expressed his disappointment at not being on the general election ticket.
O’Brien was unsuccessful at the selection convention, which chose a three-candidate strategy – comprised of Minister Ring, Senator Michelle Mulherin and Alan Dillon.
However, Michael Ring last night ruled out any possibility of O’Brien being added.
“We had our convention and we picked three candidates. Michael Burke got a big vote, so did Gerry Coyle. John O’Hara got over 2,000 votes. Should they be added to the ticket? We have selected our three candidates – myself, Michelle Mulherin in Ballina and Alan Dillon in Castlebar. Patsy O’Brien went to the convention. He did well but wasn’t picked and we are going with a three candidate strategy.”
Fianna Fáil ‘happy’
Meanwhile, Mayo TD and Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary also expressed satisfaction with his party’s performance in the local elections in Mayo, which saw them go from ten to eleven seats.
“We’re happy,” he told The Mayo News. “The first target in any election is to keep what you have. We’ve done that. We’ve definitely gained in Erris with Seán Carey. I’m thrilled for Seán. I’m very proud of the team in Ballina. We nearly took three seats there, which would have been a great achievement.
“We had huge performances across the county. We have established Chris (Maxwell, Louisburgh) as someone who will be there for the next time. We are generally very happy.
“We ran a very tight ticket, and that’s one of our lessons from the last few years. Maybe there’s a case that it was too tight, but I don’t think so. There were tight tickets, but most importantly, they worked cohesively well together. The transfers are showing that,” he added.