Back-to-the-future vibe to Sinn Féin’s safe selection


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Back-to-the-future vibe to Sinn Féin’s safe selection Back-to-the-future vibe to Sinn Féin’s safe selection

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

After months of speculation, Sinn Féin finally unveiled its local election team, those who will battle for seats on Galway City Council next year.

Sum it up in one word? Underwhelming.

Sinn Féin had held its cards close to its chest in Galway City. Despite picking candidates to contest Local Electoral Areas on Galway County Council, it was slow to announce its city selection.

The party’s press office for a fortnight ignored emails from this newspaper about the topic . . . and wouldn’t even confirm when its selection convention was going to be held. Just silence.

The suspense for political saddos was real . . . then when it came on Tuesday, the press release confirming its three candidates was an anticlimax.

Sinn Féin was the last political party to show its hand in Galway City. The secrecy surrounding the selection fed into the theory that it was courting big names to fight the election in City Central, City East and City West; that it had attracted new candidates capable of making real electoral gains on the local authority.

Instead, it was more of the same, a back-to-the future vibe.

In fairness, Cathal Ó Conchúir in City West and Mark Lohan in City Central, had signalled for a long time their intention to contest for the seats they lost in 2019. And no doubt newcomer Aisling Burke is a candidate of calibre.

Although nothing is guaranteed, all three would expect to be elected, given Sinn Féin’s current standing in opinion polls.

But the ticket smacks of a lack of ambition and has a ‘we couldn’t find anyone else’ feel to it.

Sinn Féin said it would bring “much-needed dynamism” to City Hall but where is the dynamism? Why only one woman? Why no running mates for the two experienced ex-councillors? Surely two candidates in City East, the backyard of sitting TD Mairéad Farrell, would maximise its vote in what should be fertile ground?

Fine Gael has picked six candidates in Galway City; Fianna Fáil opted for four but will almost certainly add at least one more (Mike Crowe in City East).

So, for Sinn Féin to be consistently polling at close to or over 30% but to run just one candidate in each ward suggests a strategy of playing it safe, or else they struggled to find fresh blood.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the December 17 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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