Liam Carroll shafted by FG HQ in Galway County Council race


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Liam Carroll shafted by FG HQ  in Galway County Council race Liam Carroll shafted by FG HQ  in Galway County Council race

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

What is going on in Fine Gael? No, not all the fuss about a new leader. And not the sitting TDs jumping ship and refusing to run again.

What is going on here in Galway, where the party finalised its Local Election ticket in the Athenry/Oranmore Local Electoral Area without including Councillor Liam Carroll?

For obvious reasons – Leo Varadkar’s bombshell and Simon Harris’s meteoric rise – Fine Gael foot soldiers were distracted from the party’s shafting of Carroll.

But when the Harris hype subsides, members locally will want answers as to why a proven, experienced vote-getter in Oranmore has been ruthlessly cut adrift.

Technically, Carroll declared last Tuesday he would be running in June’s Local Election to Galway County Council as a ‘community’ candidate. That was before the FG National Executive added Young Fine Gael President and Claregalway native Eoghan Gallagher to the ticket.

So, Carroll jumped before he was pushed. He was told in advance of the National Executive meeting that he would not be added and had two choices: leave politics altogether or fight on as an Independent. He’s chosen the latter course, as he has “too much energy” to leave the political pitch now.

Last December, Carroll contracted Covid-19, which meant he was unavoidably absent from a selection convention. He also missed other high-profile events, like the opening of Moycullen Bypass, around that time.

Councillor David Collins and former councillor Peter Feeney were both selected.

Conventional wisdom suggested Carroll and another candidate – possibly a woman – would be added by the National Executive later.

Last week, another candidate was added, but Gallagher got the nod over Carroll.

Fine Gael’s press office has not responded to queries about Carroll’s exclusion.

As far as we can ascertain, Fine Gael has never refused a sitting councillor the opportunity to run again, if they wished.

Remember, Liam Carroll is the current Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council. That’s a position he was elected to by party colleagues and Independents.

So, he held the confidence of the party in 2019 when it was confirmed he would be Cathaoirleach in the pact’s final year. And he retained that confidence last year when Fine Gael councillors elected him Cathaoirleach. But now he’s yesterday’s news, without so much as an explanation from the party hierarchy?

The optics are cat. Firstly, there’s a whiff of ageism off it. Ditching a pensioner for an up-and-coming whippersnapper. Then there’s the sense of decency and fair play – or lack of it – afforded to a loyal councillor.

Carroll first won a seat in 2009. He lost it five years later. Then, in 2019, he joined an exclusive 5% club of councillors who had regained a seat in elections after being ousted.

Whether he will serve a third term is up to the voters of Athenry/Oranmore, and not the Fine Gael handlers, who emerge from this debacle with diminished reputations.
This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the March 29 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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