THE rumour mill had been running at full steam in the run-up to the election with talk of the intense rivalry between Anne Rabbitte and her running mate Colm Keaveney – but as the dust settled on Saturday evening, the former Labour man was gracious in defeat.
He paid tribute to all of the candidates who had put their names forward for election but had special words of praise for Anne Rabbitte.
“She’s been a really good candidate and a great mother to her children and she’ll be a worthy representative for East Galway. I was involved in her move to stand for the County Council and she has done a wonderful job. I wish her well in Dáil Eireann,” he said.
The only hint of frustration from Keaveney was in the 2012 revision of the constituencies that reduced seats from four to three and also sheared off natural parts of the Galway East constituency from places like Dunmore, Mountbellew, Caltra and Ballinasloe.
“I don’t have any regrets. When I left Labour in 2012, I predicted the way things were going in Government that we would end up with a divided society and that’s the way it worked out. I always felt that Fianna Fáil were going to do well in this election and so it proved to be,” said Colm Keaveney.
He is certainly not convinced about the impartiality of the constituency carve-up that he felt amounted to ‘political gerrymandering’. Like Paul Connaughton, he knew that he would be ‘up against it’ when the seats were cut from four to three.
“As to my future, I’m certainly not making any decision this evening. I’m proud to have worn the jersey [Fianna Fáil] but next week I’ll be able to bring my children to school — I’ll take a little time out and catch up on some time at home,” he said.
Sean Canney’s geographical proximity to Colm Keaveney was always going to make it difficult for the two of them to be elected. Years back, Mark Killilea always maintained that Tuam and its surrounds would only ever elect one TD.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Fine Gael will struggle to hold seat in City East
Fine Gael will struggle to hold its seat in Galway City East.
TALLIES: Cheevers looks set to take a seat in City East
With just over half the boxes tallied for Galway City East, Fianna Fáil’s Alan Cheevers looks set to take a seat, polling at over 17 per cent of first preferences.
With Mervue, Ballybane and Tirellan polling stations still to be tallied, Cheevers has taken the lead, with Independent councillor Terry O’Flaherty slipping into second with 16 per cent.
Incumbent Fianna Fáil councillor Mike Crowe is on 10.5 per cent, with Independent councillor Declan McDonnell on 8 per cent.
The Green’s Claire Hillery looks to be benefitting from the party’s nationwide jump in the polls, collecting 6.5 per cent of first preferences.
Sitting Councillors Noel Larkin (Ind), Mairéad Farrell (SF) and John Walsh (FG) are polling at 7.5 per cent, 5.7 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively.
Also still in contention is the Social Democrats’ Owen Hanley with 6.6 per cent of the vote.
Deal demands better focus on rural Ireland initiatives
A concession on turf cutting, an examination of the decision to close rural Garda stations and post offices – as well as flood alleviation – are all on the shopping list for at least two of Galway’s independent TDs before any agreement to support a new Government.
Both Michael Fitzmaurice from Glinsk and Sean Canney from Tuam have been in discussions with the main parties since the general election with a view to securing their support.
They are part of the six-strong Independent Alliance which also includes Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Shane Ross – but top of their list concerns they have regarding rural Ireland.
It is understood that part of any deal would see some concession on the whole turf cutting controversy, while the issue of the closure of rural Garda Stations and rural post offices are also high on the agenda.
Deputy Canney said that so too was the recent flooding crisis and added that many farmers and individual householders were still suffering.
The Independent Alliance will hold further discussions with the parties and Deputy Canney emphasised that they were not demanding ministerial positions but just a better deal for rural Ireland.
They are demanding, however, that there will be a full Minister for Rural Affairs appointed once the new government is formed.
Deputy Canney added that it was being suggested that a TD in each constituency would report back to this department.