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Galway East

Martin gets competitive on whole range of fronts

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Frank Gannon, Clonberne, waits to see how Micheál Martin leader of Fianna Fáil pulls a pint, on the campaign trail in Tuam with local candidate for Galway East Colm Keaveny TD.

On Sunday, St Valentine’s Day, at Pearse Stadium, the Galway senior hurlers sent Cork packing, with a convincing six-point win in the National League.

“I think come summertime we’ll be very competitive in championship,” said Cork man, Micheál Martin, who rolled into town a couple of days later.

The Fianna Fáil leader wasn’t exactly showered with love but the hostility towards the party has subsided somewhat since the 2011 general election when it was blamed for the economic collapse.

And with polls indicating the party’s recovery has stabilised, Martin floats the possibility of seat gains in both Galway West, where it once held two seats, and Galway East, a former stronghold.

Fresh from the seven-way leaders’ debate on RTÉ Monday, Martin joined Galway East TD and party frontbench spokesperson on mental health, Colm Keaveney in Tuam on Tuesday, to announce its policy on disabilities. He also visited South Clare, Gort and Headford; and was in Galway City and Connemara Wednesday to launch an Irish language and Gaeltacht policy.

It’s been a hectic campaign. “I’m enjoying it – plenty of green tea. But yeah, it’s non-stop,” he says, admitting he’s surviving on about six hours sleep per night.

Have voters really forgiven Fianna Fáil? “The main thing is people genuinely don’t like this Government. The Government is unpopular – they want a change of Government. It’s not a question about forgiving us.”

In Galway East, flooding is a major issue. “The most important thing to do is to prioritise the flooding issue. That might sound, ‘sure wouldn’t everyone prioritise it’ but they don’t.” He would create a single agency to manage the Shannon, and added: “Flood relief schemes have to be accelerated.”

Capital investment in University Hospital Galway is a priority, too.

“The most urgent capital requirement on the western seaboard is a new A&E in Galway. That won’t solve problems immediately but it certainly would give hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of a quality A&E. I raised it in the Dáil and forced the Taoiseach to concede that conditions are unacceptable. The Government did not provide any capital funding to build a new A&E, or for a new maternity unit.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

City East

TALLIES: Fine Gael will struggle to hold seat in City East

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Fine Gael will struggle to hold its seat in Galway City East.

City Councillor John Walsh – a brother of former Fine Gael TD in Galway West, Brian Walsh – is on 5.7% with three-quarters of the boxes opened.
The tallies indicate that Mairéad Farrell of Sinn Féin is also under pressure on 6.75%.
Fianna Fáil is in with a strong shout of taking two seats with Cllr Michael John Crowe (10%) and running mate Alan Cheevers (16%) polling well.
Independents Terry O’Flaherty (14%) and Declan McDonnell (12%) are going well and will hold; but Noel Larkin (8%) is in a battle to retain his seat.
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City East

TALLIES: Cheevers looks set to take a seat in City East

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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.

City East Tallies with 50% of boxes open

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Galway East

Deal demands better focus on rural Ireland initiatives

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New Galway East TD Sean Canney with his wife Gearldine.

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.

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