Election battle lines are drawn across Galway county bounds

Same again?... Galway East Deputies Sean Canney, Anne Rabbitte and Ciaran Cannon at Kiltiernan NS.
Same again?... Galway East Deputies Sean Canney, Anne Rabbitte and Ciaran Cannon at Kiltiernan NS.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

The guiding rule for the Constituency Commission since the foundation of the State has been to try and respect county boundaries – but population movements over the course of a century has made that task much more difficult.

Then again, not so difficult to avoid dog’s dinners like the carve-up that happened of County Galway in 2014 – which is why I can never look at a map of Galway East and Roscommon-Galway without wincing.

Galway is big enough to have nine TDs in two constituencies; instead, the Commission gave us a bit of South Mayo and lopped off a slice of East Galway to give to Roscommon.

Those changes put paid to any lingering hope John O’Mahony had of hanging on in Mayo. He followed his East and South Mayo vote into Galway West and suffered the consequences.

As did Paul Connaughton Junior, whose hinterland was halved overnight. In the end he decided to run in Galway East but his battle became a battle for survival against his Fine Gael constituency colleague Ciarán Cannon.

And as for Roscommon, it’s always been a problem constituency, not really big enough within its boundaries for three TDs. In the past it has most often been paired with Leitrim and (more unsuccessfully) with Longford.

All that succeeded in achieving was keeping voters within their counties rather than transferring to another same-party candidate on the other side of the Shannon.

As Albert Reynolds’ right-hand man Mickey Doherty once famously said: “Votes don’t swim”.

And now we have another mongrel.

Straight off, I can’t see any change in this three-seat constituency. Denis Naughten might not reach the 30 per cent share of the vote he got in 2016, but there will be lots of sympathy for the Independent TD and his personal support base has always been rock solid

Michael Fitzmaurice is the perfect candidate for this constituency. He is from Glinsk and was a Galway County Councillor. He then won his seat in the by-election for the old Roscommon South-Leitrim on the back of his profile as a spokesman for turf cutters.

For more,  read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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