BY JACKIE KEOGH
A FORMER Fianna Fáil councillor denied he was being provocative when he voted for a Fine Gael candidate, and against a former Fianna Fáil colleague, who is opposing him in the upcoming general election.
After a lifelong involvement in the Fianna Fáil party, Alan Coleman emailed the party’s Munster organiser on Thursday, June 25th and resigned after Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony won the nomination.
Mr Coleman did not back Margaret Murphy O’Mahony when she put her name forward for the role of chairperson of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District Meeting on Friday. Instead, he voted for the Fine Gael candidate, James O’Donovan, saying: ‘There was a practical rationale behind my decision.’
The newbie Independent told The Southern Star: ‘I find being an Independent quite liberating. It allows me to make decisions that I think are the best for the Municipal District.
‘Three of the six councillors – myself, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony and Sinn Féin’s Rachel McCarthy – have declared as candidates in the general election, which will be held in the next nine months.
‘As an independent, I don’t have a pact with anyone, including Fine Gael, and I made the decision to vote for James O’Donovan. I believe he is the best guy for the job because he will be able to give the job his full attention.’
Fine Gael’s Tim Lombard proposed James O’Donovan and he was seconded by the outgoing chairman, Kevin Murphy (FG), with Alan Coleman’s vote bringing it to a decisive 4:2 win.
Margaret Murphy O’Mahony proposed herself and Rachel McCarthy seconded her nomination. If an old voting alliance had held, Alan Coleman would have voted for O’Mahony, bringing the vote to a 3:3 tie – a situation that is decided by pulling the winner’s name out of a hat.
When contacted for a comment, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said: ‘Being a general election candidate would not have hindered my performance as the Municipal District chair.
‘I am a full time councillor and have all day, every day, to devote myself to my Council work. I could have combined the task of canvassing with my Municipal District duties.’
Previously, she said: ‘I voted for Alan Coleman for Mayor and he said he would back me. As a friend and colleague, I am disappointed that he voted the way he did and that he did not inform me of his change of mind. If he had abstained, it would have been the same result, but he voted for James.’
Cork South West is a three-seat constituency and the Bandon catchment area is considered rich pickings in terms of the sheer number of voters in the region.
In the 2011 election, Fianna Fáil ran two candidates, Denis O’Donovan in the West and Christy O’Sullivan in the East, and despite having achieved a quota in terms of the numbers of votes cast, it lost the seat it had held since the foundation of the State.
This time out there is a lot on the line: Fianna Fáil has selected Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, who was first elected to the County Council in 2014, to contest the election and Alan Coleman, the party’s former poll-topper, has defected.
Pundits say: ‘If Alan takes the seat, that is the Fianna Fáil chance of a seat in the constituency gone.’