Monaghan: Fine Gael take a serious hit
FINE Gael suffered a hit in the Local Elections in Co. Monaghan where two of the three local electoral areas ended up with only a single councillor for the party.
The elections in the third area was postponed until June 7th as a result of the sudden death of a veteran Fine Gael councillor, Owen Bannigan, while he was canvassing last Friday at Ballybay, a few miles from his home.
While the former four local authority areas were re-drawn under the new boundary changes for Monaghan County Council--- with membership reduced from twenty councillors to eighteen, within three areas instead of four--- Fine Gael were the biggest losers.
While some of the party veterans did not seek re-election, one long—serving South Monaghan Fine Gael man, Aidan Murray, lost his seat.
A running mate, Lorraine Cotter, daughter of a former Fine Gael Oireachtas member, Bill Cotter, also failed in her attempt to get a seat for the party.
Sinn Fein had runaway success in the border constituency with the election of its three outgoing councillors--Matt Carthy, who was also running for Europe; his Carrickmacross colleague Noel Keelan; Sean Conlon, the outgoing mayor of Co. Monaghan, and Brian McKenna, another outgoing Sinn Fein councillor.
While Fianna Fail retained much of its support, party officials were nonetheless unhappy about the showing of some of their candidates.
A former Fianna Fail Dail deputy, teacher Margaret Conlon, who was having her first run for a local authority seat in the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney area, suffered elimination after the fourth count.
She said :"Of course its' very disappointing, but that is politics and you can only try and serve your community".
However, re-elected South Monaghan FF veteran P.J . O'Hanlon said : "We are rebuilding party strength in the border counties and we now intend to provide the best possible service for constituents in the new municipal set-up which is already causing concern over the level of public representation in many towns".
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Jackie Crowe said : "Our success in Co. Monaghan was mainly due to the to the extent of our campaign, and it also reflects the overall response of the community to the excellent role which all our councillors perform on the ground".
He said it was hoped to further increase the strength of the party in the third electoral area of Ballybay-Clones, where voting will take place on June 7th as a result of the weekend death of former councillor and Fine Gael party veteran, Owen Bannigan .
The Monaghan councillors are holding a special meeting today (Monday) to pay tribute to their former colleague.
CO. MONAGHAN - Sinn Fein- 5; Fianna Fail -3; Fine Gael- 2 ; and Independents- 2.
One Electoral Area --Ballybay-Clones still to vote
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