Sinn Féin may be poised to add to solitary council seat

SINN FÉIN may be poised to make greater gains in the local elections in Co Cork than Labour.

Sinn Féin’s joint directors of elections in the county Paul O’Connor and DJ O’Driscoll believe the party could make breakthroughs in today’s voting, adding to their solitary seat on Cork County Council.

Martin Hallinan from Youghal became the first member of Sinn Féin to take a seat on the council since the 1920s when he was elected in 2004.

He’s retiring from the council and Mr O’Connor believes replacement candidate Sandra McLellan will hold onto the seat.

Mr O’Driscoll, who is in charge of the western end of the county, said he’s very hopeful Cionnaith O Súilleabháin will make a breakthrough in the Skibbereen electoral area, having consolidated his power base on Clonakilty Town Council. However, Mr O Súilleabháin will face stiff opposition from Labour’s Brendan Leahy for the last seat.

Labour’s director of elections George Cummins maintains that Mr Leahy will take that seat.

Mr Cummins, however, admitted Mr Leahy was Labour’s best chance of a gain and they were under pressure to retain the seats of two sitting councillors elsewhere in the county.

Under most threat is Martin Coughlan, who is running for Labour in the Macroom electoral area.

“The boundary change which added Ballincollig to the Macroom area dealt us a poor hand. We will be under pressure to retain that seat, but we hope we can hold on,” Mr Cummins said.

In the Blarney electoral area, Labour’s sitting councillor John Gilroy is also under threat, but Mr Cummins said he hoped the candidate can hold out and beat off the challenge of Fianna Fáil’s Michael Burns. He added that CIT students’ union president Gearoid Buckley was an “outside possibility” to take a Labour seat in Bandon.

Sinn Féin is confident that it is in with a serious shout of getting two seats in North Cork.

“Willie O’Regan is probably our strongest chance of winning a seat. He has put in a lot of hard work,” Mr O’Connor said.

Mr O’Regan is running for Sinn Féin in Mallow, where boundary changes have increased the number of seats from four to five.

“It will be between him and Fine Gael for the last seat,” Mr O’Connor said.

He also predicted that Seamus Coleman, who is a candidate in the Fermoy electoral area, will perform well.

“Seamus is getting a very positive response and he could well be in the shake-up for the last seat there,” Mr O’Connor said.

Mr O’Driscoll said other Sinn Féin candidates were expected to increase the party’s votes on the 2004 performance, but without getting seats.

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