By Stephen Corrigan
Newly elected Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly has emphatically ruled out ever returning to the Labour Party following her election on Sunday evening.
Just minutes after her election, the outgoing city councillor said she had no regrets over leaving the party in 2006.
“Labour lost their soul a long time ago, and they’ve left a vacuum in opposition, I do regret that,” she said.
Deputy Connolly, who was elected on the 14th and final count with 10,239 votes, said that it was not a day for recriminations of the Labour Party but a day to celebrate the election of more candidates on the left. She rejected any suggestion that she would support a government led by either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, unless Fianna Fáil had a “change on the road to Damascus.”
But for a left wing government being formed, Deputy Connolly believed it was time for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to put aside historical differences and enter into coalition.
“I think there’s no difference between them, they have shown that repeatedly. I think they should stop the nonsense and go into government, unless we can form a government on the left,” she said.
Deputy Connolly put the success of independent candidates in Friday’s election down to the refusal of the government to listen to the people of Ireland.
“The government were giving a message that we’re going out to take away Universal Social Charge and reduce taxes, and the people at the doors were saying ‘Good God, do something about people on trolleys, do something about the health service, do something about housing’- There was a complete disconnect,” she exclaimed.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
TALLIES: Half of boxes open in City West
With half of the boxes in Galway City West tallied, the state of play in the six-seater is:
Donal Lyons (Ind) 23%
Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) 14.75%
Niall McNelis (Lab) 11.89%
John Connolly (FF) 9.86%
Pearce Flannery (FG) 9.48%
Peter Keane (FF) 7.3%
John Crowley (Soc Dems) 6.3%
Clodagh Higgins (FG) 5.9%
Salthill and Taylor’s Hill boxes being tallied now
Left and right find middle ground
There is a tired old cliché about people singing from ‘the same hymn sheet’ – but despite their diverse political backgrounds, it could certainly be applied in the case of Galway city’s two new TDs.
Because Fine Gael’s Deputy Hildegarde Naughten and independent TD Catherine Connolly hold common ground when it comes to a lot of issues relating to Galway city.
For example, in the aftermath of the general election they both agreed that University Hospital Galway should be moved to a greenfield site at Merlin Park. They also articulated this view on the first day of the new Dail last week.
And, separately, they were both in favour of the provision of dedicated bus lanes throughout Galway city with the acceptance that there will be no outer bypass for at least another decade. Deputy Connolly believes that the current proposal is simply “a cul-de-sac” and should never have been progressed.
Left-leaning Independent TD Catherine Connolly and right-leaning Fine Gael TD, Hildegarde Naughton, both believe UHG is at saturation point and are committed to the development of a new public hospital at the larger, more accessible site east of the city.
This, along with the promotion of public transport initiatives to help end traffic chaos in the city, is one of the common policy objectives the two new women TDs share.
They are only the second and third women TDs ever in Galway West, following in the footsteps of former Fianna Fáil minister, Máire Geoghegan Quinn.
Fianna Fail attempts to woo Grealish again
Pressure is mounting on Galway West TD Noel Grealish to join Fianna Fail as the party attempts to be part of the next government.
The Fianna Fail organisation in the constituency are now convinced that Grealish may provide the party with the answer to winning a second seat in Galway West. And the organisation are disappointed that veteran TD Eamon O Cuiv has not delivered a second seat in the last two general elections. If Fianna Fail assume power, it is very unlikely that the Cornamona man will have a place at the front bench.
The party organisation in Galway West are now anxious that Grealish becomes part of their fabric and particularly as he is a proven vote-winner.
Grealish is part of an unofficial grouping in the Dail who are currently engaged with the two major parties with a view to forming a minority government.
The fact that the Carnmore man has been a TD since 2002, it is likely that he could be part of the front bench in the next government if he agrees to become part of the support that Fianna Fail require.
It was revealed last week that he had been approached by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to join up but he was not to be drawn on the issue.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.