Monday 18 December 2017

Monaghan: Fine Gael take a serious hit

Patsy McArdle

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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