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Fermoy politics has been like a game of musical chairs

June Murphy on the campaign trail in Kildorrery.
June Murphy on the campaign trail in Kildorrery.

Local politics in Fermoy has been a game of musical chairs of sorts with representatives not just giving up county council positions for Dáil seats, but also swapping parties since the last local elections.

Of the six councillors elected in the Fermoy Municipal District in 2014, just two will stand again in the electoral area for the same party. Kay Dawson (Fine Gael) and Fianna Fáil’s Frank O’Flynn will run again as they did last time around.

But 2014 poll topper Noel McCarthy has since switched from Labour to Fine Gael, while June Murphy has swapped Sinn Féin for the Social Democrats and the Fianna Fáil duo of Kevin O’Keeffe and Ian Doyle have left the Fermoy area for the Dáil and the Kanturk Local Electoral Area, respectively.

Ms Dawson and Mr McCarthy will run again for Fine Gael and Ms Murphy will expect to hold her seat for the Social Democrats. The O’Keeffe machine in Mitchelstown will be tasked with maintaining Fianna Fáil’s grasp on three of the six seats in the area.

Sitting councillor Deirdre O’Brien was co-opted to replace her brother Kevin O’Keeffe upon his General Election success in 2016 and, between them and their father former junior minister Ned, the family has a long standing in the region.

The third candidate for the Soldiers of Destiny is a first-time candidate William O’Leary, a long-time party canvasser who served as parliamentary assistant to Kevin O’Keeffe. The Labour Party will be smarting having lost Noel McCarthy to Fine Gael.

His vote-pulling power, particularly in the town of Fermoy, saw him top the poll in 2014 with over 3,500 votes - a 20% share of first preferences that ensured he passed the quota on the first count with a thousand ballots to spare.

Labour, meanwhile, will run one candidate, former Defence Forces member David Kenneally who now works for the Cope Foundation.

Having lost June Murphy to the Social Democrats during the council’s term, Sinn Féin will also run a first-time candidate, Helen White, in the hope of regaining the single seat they secured in 2014.

Independent Frank Roche will make a second bid for County Hall having been unsuccessful in the 2014 elections.

Fianna Fáil’s Ian Doyle, who was a sitting councillor in the Fermoy Municipal District, will now contest the Kanturk four-seater after a redrawing of the boundaries due to the changes affecting his base in Charleville.

In 2014, the town of Charleville was brought into the Fermoy Municipal District amid some complaints that the town would be a more natural fit with its nearer neighbour Mallow and its local authority area.

The most recent census has shown that the population of the Fermoy’s Municipal District has grown from 42,226 to 44,125, and the district had an existing representational ratio of 7,038 people for every councillor, even before that increase in those living in the area.

To bring down such numbers, the newly redrawn Fermoy Municipal District will lose the town of Charleville and its surrounding areas in the northwest of the district to the Kanturk Local Electoral Area.

In the south, it will also surrender part of Watergrasshill to the Cobh Municipal District while, in exchange, Cobh will give Glenville to Fermoy.

These changes - particularly the loss of Charleville - have resulted in a significant population drop to 36,406 remaining in the Fermoy Municipal District, which reduces the representational ratio to a more favourable ratio of roughly 6,068 members of the public per councillor.

The reshaped Fermoy Municipal District runs from Glenville in the South West across to Ballynoe and Curraglass in the South East, and from Mitchelstown in the North East across to Doneraile and Streamhill in the North West.

The specific changes include moving the Electoral Districts of Miltown, Newtown, and Rathluirc from the Fermoy Municipal District to the Kanturk Electoral Area, and moving Imphrick and Springfort to Mallow.

The Watergrasshill area was previously split across Fermoy and Cobh-Glanmire, and the moves at the south of the Fermoy District will ensure the Watergrasshill area will now lie within the Cobh District in its entirety.

The six-seater Fermoy Municipal District has a population of 36,406 spread across the districts of Aghern, Ballyarthur, Ballyhooly, Ballynoe, Carrig, Castle Hyde, Castlecooke, Castlelyons, Castletownroche, Clenor, Coole, Curraglass, Derryvillane, Doneraile, Farahy, Fermoy Rural, Fermoy Urban, Glanworth East, Glanworth West, Glenville ,Gortnaskehy, Gortroe, Kilcor, Kilcummer, Kildinan, Kildorrery, Kilgullane, Killathy, Kilphelan, Kilworth, Knockmourne among others. 

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