Saturday 24 February 2018

Connolly pinching Labour votes by refusing to make 'empty' promises

Councillor Catherine Connolly at the Claddagh Basin in Galway West. Photo: Andrew Downes
Councillor Catherine Connolly at the Claddagh Basin in Galway West. Photo: Andrew Downes
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

At the last election, Independent candidate Catherine Connolly was just 17 votes short of taking a seat in Galway West. But a strong backlash against Labour will benefit her this time around.

The left-leaning Independent has insisted she is doing what she has always done, providing a voice for fundamental issues - public health, public housing and public transport.

"I've watched with dismay as the housing crisis and the undermining of the health service have been allowed to continue and the undermining of the health service," said Ms Connolly, a councillor for 16 years.

She is receiving significant support at the doors, especially in Galway city, and it is costing Labour.

"The perception is Labour told lies knowing well they would not be delivered on and people are mad. But they are also asking what I am promising them; my answer is nothing - I won't make promises I can't keep.

"What I'm asking is for people to fight with me for public housing and public health. I think people respect me for that," she added.

With 19 candidates vying for five seats, this was a crowded constituency to start with. But remove one seat as a given for Éamon Ó Cuív and the race gets even tighter.

Ballinrobe moves into this constituency and sitting Fine Gael Mayo TD John O'Mahony is expected to put up a serious fight. But questions remain as to whether his loyal followers in south Mayo will be enough to get him over the line in the greater Galway constituency.

Mr O'Mahony's presence on the Galway ballot is expected to split Seán Kyne's vote, who barely held off the challenge from Ms Connolly last time around. But since then Mr Kyne has strengthened his position and looks well placed to return to the Dáil. His running mate, Fine Gael Senator Hildegarde Naughton, will be hoping to do well from transfers.

The departure of Fine Gael's Brian Walsh from politics could prove beneficial for Labour's Derek Nolan, but a backlash against the party will put the sitting TD under pressure.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh is hoping to secure a seat. With a high profile across the county, he is expected to benefit from transfers from Mr Ó Cuív and Mr Nolan and could fight for the final seat.

Sitting Independent TD Noel Grealish is facing a battle from a raft of new Independents. Former FG Senator Fidelma Healy Eames is running as an independent, as is Mike Cubbard who topped the poll in the local elections.

Prediction: One Fianna Fáil, two Fine Gael, one Independent. Final seat a battle between Sinn Féin and Independents.

Irish Independent

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