Thursday 20 June 2019

Times they are a changin'

Fine Gael’s Cathal Byrne celebrates winning a seat in the Enniscorthy Electoral area
Fine Gael’s Cathal Byrne celebrates winning a seat in the Enniscorthy Electoral area

Brendan Keane

Bob Dylan might have foreseen Enniscorthy in 2019 when he wrote his classic 'The Times They Are a Changin' because that certainly seems to be the case if the results of last weekend's local elections are anything to go by.

Cllr Johnny Mythen was one of three veteran politicians in the town lose his seat and he was also the one who, possibly, summarised the feelings of the electorate when he commented to this newspaper that the election outcome represented 'a changing of the guard' to some extent.

Along with Cllr Mythen, two more high profile sitting councillors also lost their seats, Paddy Kavanagh and Keith Doyle - who, prior to last weekend, was also the last Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council.

However, there are are other aspects to the outcome that would suggest things are going full circle in Enniscorthy as Jackser Owens regained the local authority seat he lost last time around and new faces, Cathal Byrne and Aidan Browne, are fresh new faces on the political landscape, although in the case of Cllr Browne he is reigniting the long association of the Browne family with local politics in Enniscorthy.

One of the things that appeared to have a definite impact on the results was the boundary changes to the Enniscorthy electoral area.

Both Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan and Mr Mythen commented on the adverse affect the changes had on their respective campaigns.

In the case of Cllr Codd-Nolan she secured enough first preference votes to see her over the line after two subsequent counts but if the boundary changes weren't in place she would likely have retained her seat on the first count.

The same is true for Cllr John O'Rourke who also retained his seat despite spending just €1,000 on his campaign and, when compared to others, running a somewhat low-key campaign in general.

Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy was within a whisker of reaching the quota when she was deemed elected towards the end of the count along with two other candidates who hadn't reached the full quota: Cllr Browne and Cllr Byrne.

With the impending opening of the Enniscorthy bypass and other major capitalprojects in the pipeline including the comprehensive river Slaney drainage and flood defence scheme on the horizon the town is going through a period of positive change.

While the three former councillors who lost their seats would rightfully claim to have played a major role in bringing about those changes the same could also be said of the three incoming members who retained their seats.

In Cllr Owens the council will have a 'new' face but an experienced politician while Cllr Byrne and Cllr Browne could bring fresh new ideas to the table albeit within the confines of their respective Fine Gael and Fianna Fail parties.

With the election of Cllr Owens alongside Cllr John O'Rourke the people of Enniscorthy will now have two independent voices representing them.

However, there's power in numbers and with the local authority reducing in size from eight to six seats the incoming council members will have to very much work together as a uniform body for the betterment of the town and district.

Another aspect of change for the incoming council is the fact there are two independent members in its make-up.

Each of the incoming members have very distinct areas that they represent and whether or not that will result in a passionate but disjointed council remains to be seen.

With the reduction in seats and a bypass on the way if there has ever been a time for unity in the chamber it's now.

Enniscorthy Guardian