BY JACKIE KEOGH & KIERAN O’MAHONY
BY a narrow margin of 10 votes, FG party members selected Schull businesswoman Caroline Cronin O’Driscoll to be their new councillor in the Schull Electoral Area.
Even in pre-Covid times, the 300-plus attendance at the convention at the Westlodge Hotel in Bantry on Friday night would have been considered significant.
However, there are just 220 party members registered to vote in the Schull Electoral Area, a region that includes Bantry and accounts for approximately half of the Cork South West constituency.
It is understood that 150 of the members cast their votes on the night and that Ms O’Driscoll (41) received 80 votes, just 10 ahead of the only other candidate, retired school teacher Denis O’Sullivan (59) from Dromore in Bantry.
She will now replace Katie Murphy, who resigned her seat last November, on Cork County Council. Ms Cronin O’Driscoll runs the well-known fish and chip food trailer called Sean Og’s at the Community Hall in Ballydehob.
Senator Tim Lombard said the convention signified the ‘re-energising and rebooting’ of the party and the start of the countdown to the next local elections in 116 weeks’ time, and the general election shortly after that.
Meanwhile, a former mayor of Bantry has been elected the new chair of the Cork South West FF CDC (Comhairle Dáil Ceantair) following the retirement of John Loughnan.
Over 200 FF members from the Cork South West constituency attended Fernhill House Hotel in Clonakilty on Monday night for their first in-person meeting in over two years.
The position of chair was contested by Aiden McCarthy, a businessman and long-serving community activist from Bantry, and Castletownbere vet Brian Murphy.
Aiden, who is also a former town councillor and former chair of Bantry Harbour Commissioners, won the close vote and said he is looking forward to the new challenge. He said he would specifically concentrate on ensuring that members’ voices will be heard locally and nationally.
He also said he would increase the interaction now that restrictions have been lifted.
Maria Lehane, Bandon was elected vice-chair, John Buckley remains as secretary and Micheál O’Regan maintains her position as treasurer.
Former TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony occupies the new position of women and equality officer, while Cllr Deirdre Kelly is the PRO.
Meanwhile, the Bantry branch of the Green Party has selected Liz Coakley Wakefield as their new electoral area rep.