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Elections 2024

Who is running in the local and European elections?

June 5th, 2024 2:22 PM

By Southern Star Team

Who is running in the local and European elections? Image
The polls for the European and local elections open this Friday.

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THE local and European elections take place in Ireland this week, on June 7th. With so many local election candidates running across West Cork and in the Ireland South European Parliament constituency, The Southern Star has produced this handy guide for West Cork readers to find out who is running in their area.

Local elections

Bandon-Kinsale LEA



THE Bandon Kinsale area is being described as a ‘battle royale’ judging by the number of candidates hoping to win seats in the six-seater electoral area.

There are 12 candidates running, with four sitting councillors hoping to keep their seats when voters hit the polling stations on Friday June 7th.

What is significant this time round is that two sitting Fine Gael councillors – Kevin Murphy – the second longest serving councillor in Cork County Council, with 37 years of experience, and his colleague John O’Sullivan – are both stepping down and their seats will be hotly contested.

Fine Gael will be keen to hold on to these two seats and they are hoping Bandon’s Gerard Seaman – who ran in 2019 and came very close to getting a seat – and newcomer John Michael Foley from Timoleague can make an impression on voters. Meanwhile, it is expected that sitting councillor Marie O’Sullivan in Kinsale, who took the fifth seat in 2019, will poll well in her area.

Five years ago Fianna Fáil won two seats, Fine Gael won three, and Independents won one but nothing is safe in local politics and there are plenty of newcomers hoping to cause a political upset.

Fianna Fáil’s Gillian Coughlan, who topped the poll five years ago with 2,762 first preference votes, is running again, as is her colleague and current chair of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District Sean O’Donovan, who took the sixth seat in 2019.

The party has also opted to include a third candidate with former TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony – who became the first female TD elected in Cork South West in 2016 – also standing and hoping to return to Cork County Council.

It will remain to be seen if the party’s vote management can get all three candidates across the line, especially when all are Bandon-based too.

Alan Coleman, who is running as an independent, secured 2,350 first preference votes five years ago, claiming the second seat and it is expected he will keep his seat.

Bandon town has been described as a ‘hotbed’ by one political pundit due to the number of candidates in the town.

Publican John Collins – brother of TD Michael Collins and Bantry-based publican Cllr Danny Collins – is standing for Independent Ireland and is being seen as the dark horse in the Bandon Kinsale area and could claim a seat.

Ann Bambury, also in Bandon, is running for the Social Democrats and she took could pick up plenty of votes through her activism in securing the new play-park in the town.

Clare O’Callaghan is hoping to win back a seat for Sinn Féin, which they lost five years ago.

Their former councillor, Rachel McCarthy topped the poll in Bandon Kinsale 10 years ago so they will be hoping the nationwide rise in the popularity of the party will transfer to votes and get Clare over the line.

Other candidates hoping to pick up votes include Brendan Piper of Piper’s Funfair who is running as an Independent candidate.

The Cork Green Party’s director of elections, Stephen Spillane is also standing in Bandon Kinsale area.

It is possible that Coughlan (FF), Coleman (Ind) O’Sullivan (FG) Collins (Ind) and Seaman (FG) could take the first five seats, while a battle will take place between O’Donovan (FF) Murphy O’Mahony (FF) O’Callaghan (SF) Foley (FG) and Bambury (SD) for the final seat.

Full list of candidates

  • Bambury, Ann (SD)
  • Coleman, Alan (Ind)
  • Collins, John (Ind Ire)
  • Coughlan, Gillian (FF)
  • Foley, John Michael (FG)
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret (FF)
  • O'Callaghan, Clare (SF)
  • O'Donovan, Sean (FF)
  • O'Driscoll, Deborah (The Irish People)
  • O'Sullivan, Marie (FG)
  • Piper, Brendan (Ind)
  • Seaman, Gerard (FG)
  • Spillane, Stephen (GP)


Skibbereen - West Cork LEA



SKIBBEREEN is likely to be one of the most keenly contested elections because there are four sitting councillors and 11 other candidates hoping to be returned to the five-seater electoral area, which forms part of the West Cork Municipal District.

One of the sitting councillors, Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF), will be standing for the first time, having missed out on a chance in 2019, only to be co-opted to the Council when Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) was elected to the Dáil in 2020.

There is a general consensus that Fianna Fáil’s Joe Carroll could be first past the post, but Fianna Fáil has been strategic in standing three candidates in three key areas: Cllr Carroll in Skibbereen; Cllr Deirdre Kelly in Dunmanway; and first-time candidate Pádraig O’Reilly in Clonakilty town.

Fine Gael is currently without a councillor on the West Cork Municipal District following Cllr Karen Coakley’s decision to leave the party and become an Independent councillor.

Cllr Coakley took the fourth seat for Fine Gael in 2019,​ and previously served on the town council in 2009, b​ut without the backing of a party she will need an estimated 1,800 first preference votes if she is to be in with a chance of being re-elected.

This time, Fine Gael has gone for tried and tested candidates with Brendan McCarthy, who previously served two terms on the town council, alongside Noel O’Donovan, a former county councillor.

Noel O’Donovan was initially co-opted when Jim Daly was elected to Dáil Eireann in 2011. Noel also stood for election in 2014 and was successful, but resigned in January 2017 to become a garda for a time.

They are not the only former councillors seeking re-election.

Another former member of Skibbereen​ town council, Donnchadh Ó Seaghdha (SF), has decided to stand again and is hoping to get a boost from Sinn Féin’s popularity in the polls. Meanwhile, the Green Party has put forward the well-known environmentalist Rory Jackson, from Tragumna.

Another former Fine Gael town councillor in Clonakilty, Humphrey Deegan​, failed to secure the party nomination last September, and is hoping that his ‘wildcard’ status will see him elected, this time as an Independent.

With the strong support of Cork South West TD Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) some believe that Pádraig O’Reilly (FF) will be the dark horse in this race and make a strong showing in his base in Clonakilty town.

But the plate in Clonakilty appears crowded. Voters could be drawn to Labour’s Evie Nevin who previously stood as a Social Democrat candidate but failed to be elected in 2019, or Independent Ireland’s Daniel Sexton, who works in Skibbereen but lives in Clonakilty.

Social Democrat candidate Isobel Towse, who was raised on Sherkin Island but is now living in nearby Rosscarbery, is hoping that the party’s bounce in the polls will enable her to make a good showing, while Independent candidate Barry O’Mahony is campaigning on local issues, such as the sewage problem in Shannonvale, which is impacting on Clonakilty’s water supply.

If Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) takes a bigger portion of the Dunmanway vote, it has been suggested that Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) could come under some pressure, especially if Noel O’Donovan (FG) secures a strong first preference vote in the Dunmanway area.

If the pundits are correct, the fifth seat will see one or two of the new candidates battling it out with sitting Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind)​ and Cllr Karen Coakley.

Full list of candidates

  • Carroll, Joe (FF)
  • Coakley, Karen (Ind)
  • Deane, Lorraine (Aon)
  • Deegan, Humphrey (Ind)
  • Hurley, Declan (Ind)
  • Jackson, Rory (GP)
  • Kelly, Deirdre (FF)
  • McCarthy, Brendan (FG)
  • Nevin, Evie (Lab)
  • O'Donovan, Noel (FG)
  • O'Mahony, Barry (Ind)
  • Ó Seaghdha, Donnchadh (SF)
  • O'Reilly Pádraig (FF)
  • Sexton, Daniel (Ind Ire)
  • Towse, Isobel (SD)


Bantry - West Cork LEA



THERE are four sitting councillors and seven new candidates seeking election in the four-seater Bantry electoral area, which is part of the West Cork Municipal District.

Two of the sitting councillors were co-opted, not elected, so this will be the first time that sitting councillors Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG) and Cllr Chris Heinhold (SD) will be seeking election.

Cllr Danny Collins was first co-opted as an Independent councillor in 2016 – after his brother Michael Collins took a seat in Dáil Eireann – and he was elected in 2019.

This time, he is expected to top the poll for his brother’s party Independent Ireland.

The early transfer of Danny’s second preference votes is expected to benefit Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy, who has three successful elections already under his belt.

Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG), who has built up a strong support base in the Bantry area since she was co-opted in March 2020, is also expected to be returned to Cork County Council.

She won the party’s selection convention but the party executive subsequently decided to add first time candidate Mary Lou Maguire Leahy to the ticket.

Although the party is confident of its vote management strategy in the Bantry area, the decision to stand two female candidates – Caroline who is from Ballydehob but living in Schull, and Mary Lou Maguire Leahy, who lives in Lisheen, near Skibbereen – so close to each other geographically, is risky because they could cancel each other out if their first preference votes are dissipated.

In Bantry, it is Cllr Chris Heinhold’s seat that is being targeted.

As a newcomer, Chris may not be strong enough to see off some of the stronger challengers on his doorstep, such as Independent candidate Finbarr Harrington, who famously lost out on a council seat by a single vote to Holly Cairns (SD) in 2019.

Aontú’s candidate in the Bantry area, Patrick Murphy – who straddles a home base from Ballydehob to Beara, where he is the chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation – will also be a force to be reckoned with.

Meanwhile, the farming community is likely to support Independent candidate Helen O’Sullivan, who lives in the Mealagh Valley.

Helen, who had helped to establish the Farmers’ Alliance, is now standing as a first-time Independent candidate.

The Green Party has put forward retired school teacher Liz Coakley Wakefield.

Liz previously served as a public representative for the Green Party in Brighton before returning to her mother’s homeplace in West Cork.

Fianna Fáil candidate Danny Crowley (FF), who is well known for his involvement in Bantry’s YouthReach, is seeking a return to Cork County Council, following previous election successes in 2004 and 2009.

But with Danny Crowley and Patrick Gerard Murphy both running for Fianna Fáil in Beara, Patrick Gerard’s first preferences could be reduced if they split the vote, leaving it a three-way battle for the fourth seat.

Sinn Fein have also selected Colum O’Callaghan, an engineer and a father-of-four, to stand in the Bantry area.

Full list of candidates

  • Coakley Wakefield, Liz (GP)
  • Collins, Danny (Ind Ire)
  • Cronin, Caroline (FG)
  • Crowley, Danny (FF)
  • Harrington, Finbarr (Ind)
  • Heinhold, Chris (SD)
  • Maguire Leahy, Mary Lou (FG)
  • Murphy, Patrick (Aon)
  • Murphy, Patrick Gerard (FF)
  • O'Callaghan, Colum (SF)
  • O'Sullivan, Helen (Ind)


European election candidates

There are a total of five seats up for grabs in the South constituency in this week's European Elections. The current MEPs are Seán Kelly and Deirdre Clune (both FG), Billy Kelleher, (FF), Mick Wallace (Inds 4 Change) and Grace O'Sullivan (GP).

With Deirdre Clune not contesting the election, we will see at least one change in the make-up of this constituency once the votes are counted.

Full list of candidates

  • Blighe, Derek (Ireland First)
  • Bogue, Lorna (Rabharta)
  • de Barra, Graham (Ind)
  • Doyle, Christopher VS (Ind)
  • Doyle, Susan (SD)
  • Fitzgibbon, Mary (Ind)
  • Funchion, Kathleen (SF)
  • Gavan, Paul (SF)
  • Hourigan, Niamh (Lab)
  • Kelleher, Billy (FF)
  • Kelly, Seán (FG)
  • Lahive, Ross (The Irish People)
  • Leahy, Michael (Irish Freedom)
  • McGurk, Una (Ind)
  • McNamara, Michael (Ind)
  • Mullins, John (FG)
  • Murphy, Patrick (Aon)
  • Ní Mhurchú, Cynthia (FF)
  • O'Riordan, Ciaran (Ind)
  • O'Sullivan, Grace (GP)
  • Prendiville, Cian (PBP)
  • Punch, Eddie (Ind Ire)
  • Wallace, Mick (Independents 4 Change)


For more on the elections in West Cork, check out our guide here.

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