114 candidates do battle for place in new 55-seat chamber

A total of 114 candidates have declared for Cork County Council with more than one-in-three being non-party hopefuls.

114 candidates do battle for place in new 55-seat chamber

Fine Gael, for years the largest party on the local authority securing 24% of the vote and 22 seats in 2009, is running 29 candidates.

Main rivals Fianna Fáil field 22 candidates and Sinn Féin, currently with one seat, puts forward 12.

Labour have 10 candidates, Green Party and People Before Profit Party three each, along with a sole Anti-Austerity Alliance candidate while non-party — Independents and others — total 34.

Nine town councils in Cork county have been abolished but the county council increases its membership from 48 to 55.

A gender breakdown of the runners shows 86 male candidates and 28 female.

Fine Gael has the highest number of women candidates with eight, along with seven non-party, four from Sinn Féin, three from Fianna Fáil, two each from Labour and the Greens and the remaining two from the People Before Profit party and Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Seeking re-election are 38 members — 17 Fine Gael, 10 Fianna Fáil, Labour five, non-party five, and the sole SF member.

Snatching seats from the main parties has always been a challenge for small parties and independents. But that could change as part of a mid-term anti-government backlash.

Interesting battles will be fought in the eight new municipal districts established by the boundary commission.

The biggest constituency is the Ballincollig-Carrigaline electoral area and also incorporates towns such as Douglas and Passage West. With 10 seats on offer, five incumbents are seeking re-election. At first glance, all look quite safe but Sinn Féin and non-party could be the big winners with FF reportedly eyeing a gain.

The sprawling West Cork district has been reduced from two electoral areas to one with the coastal region losing four seats.

Fine Gael is running its six outgoing councillors but, most likely, will be lucky to cling on to four.

Sinn Féin is hoping to win a seat, with Labour a likely casualty, losing its sole seat.

The revision did Fine Gael no favours where two of its candidates, Cllr John O’Sullivan in Courtmacsherry and Cllr Jerry Sullivan in Eyeries, are likely to be under most pressure.

The new Cobh electoral area, which also covers Glanmire, is a seven-seater and it only has two outgoing Labour councillors in contention.

Sinn Féin have a chance of even getting two seats. It would be a shock if ex-junior minister Michael Ahern (FF) doesn’t take a seat and could bring a running mate with him.

Fine Gael are running three candidates. Sinead Sheppard looks the party’s front-runner and will help to secure a seat for either Anthony Barry or Conor Murphy.

Labour would be likely to hold just one seat, while any of the four independents could cause a surprise.

The remaining five electoral areas are all six-seaters.

The Bandon-Kinsale area has three outgoing heavy-hitters in the form of Alan Coleman, Fianna Fáil, and Fine Gael’s Kevin Murphy and Tim Lombard.

So it’s a bit of a lottery on who will fill the other three seats up for grabs.

Again Sinn Féin must fancy its chances with Bandon-based former town councillor Rachel McCarthy while FF hopes to gain by ensuring Coleman brings in his running-mate Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony.

Meanwhile, only one of the three contesting independents could make the grade, but in the battle for the last seat will be Bandon-based James O’Donovan (FG).

It’s a similar scenario in Blarney-Macroom with three outgoing councillors seeking election.

Labour’s Cllr Martin Coughlan could be under pressure because of changes to the boundary and he’s also likely to suffer from an expected backlash against the party.

It would be expected that outgoing Michael Creed (FG) and Aindrias Moynihan (FF) will be returned.

Sinn Féin look likely to make a gain here with Des O’Grady and Fianna Fáil will be banking on getting Cork GAA Board county chairman Bob Ryan across the line.

Fine Gael will be hoping to get a second seat and with four Independents in the field one of them could also make it.

East Cork has four outgoing councillors, including the longest serving in Noel Collins, Independent, who will almost certainly top the poll.

Fine Gael’s two incumbents, Michael Hegarty and Barbara Murray won’t be under pressure and Sinn Féin’s only sitting councillor Michelle Hennessy, also looks a certainty.

That leaves two seats to fill. Labour’s Eric Nolan could be there or thereabouts while there will be a scramble between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and four Independents for the remaining seat.

For the first time, Fermoy area will not have a Fine Gael sitting councillor seeking re-election but the party could still take two seats.

Fianna Fáil’s sitting councillors Kevin O’Keeffe and Frank O’Flynn are likely to be unstoppable while under pressure Cllr Noel McCarthy (Lab) should have enough to make it over the line.

That leaves one, or maybe two seats. Sinn Féin should be in a position to grab one with June Murphy and it’s anybody’s guess after that.

The Kanturk-Mallow area has eight sitting councillor contesting six seats.

Fine Gael have three sitting councillors, Noel O’Connor, Gerard Murphy and Noel Buckley in the race. Fianna Fáil have Dan Joe Fitzgerald and Bart Donegan, while Labour have Ronan Sheehan and the Independents are John Paul O’Shea and Timmy Collins.

Bart Donegan will be under extreme pressure as his heartland of Charleville has been transferred into the Fermoy municipal area.

Fine Gael can’t expect to hold onto three seats and will return just two. John Paul O’Shea will improve on his vote last time out and get re-elected, although fellow Independent Timmy Collins could struggle.

There are two constituencies where there are an excess of outgoing councillors fighting for available seats.

Two will have to lose out in West Cork and another two in Kanturk-Mallow.

At best only 34 outgoing councillors can make it back to the new 55-seater chamber.

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