D-Day has arrived for 46,000 city voters who go to the polls today to elect five TDs to represent Galway West in Dáil Éireann.
For three weeks of the General Election campaign, the 20 candidates have debated and argued their policies . . . now the people have their say.
After a short campaign, the battle for the hearts and minds of Galway voters shifts to a ground war of ‘getting the vote out’.
The electoral machines will crank into gear as the parties and independents rally their support bases to use their vote and increase turnout.
Candidates will use traditional methods of mobilising maximum support – taxiing voters to polling stations – as well as newer methods of reaching-out to the electorate, such as social media. Although a broadcasting moratorium has kicked-in, it does not include social media or newspapers.
The total electorate in Galway West is 103,704 voters compared with 88,840 in 2011. About half of the extra 15,000 voters can be attributed to the addition of South Mayo to the constituency following the redraw by the independent Boundary Commission.
The Galway West constituency has three parts: Galway city, county and Mayo.
The total electorate in Galway City is 46,157, which includes 426 who were added to the supplementary register in recent weeks.
There are 49,868 voters in Galway County, including all areas in Connemara west of Barna and areas including Oranmore, Turloughmore and Carnmore to the east of the city. Some 387 additional county voters were added to the supplementary register.
Meanwhile, there are 7,697 eligible voters in the new Mayo part of the constituency, which includes Ballinrobe and Shrule.
For lots more coverage of today’s voting, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
We’ll bring you up to the minute coverage of the counts as they progress in all three constituencies on www.ctrib2019.wpengine.com on Facebook and on Twitter @CTribune
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.