The political landscape is very different for May’s local elections compared to what it was back in 2014, largely due to controversial changes to the local election boundaries.
Effectively, the changes have resulted in two new electoral areas being created and has increased the seats up for grabs across the wider West Cork area from 14 to 15.
Back in 2014 we had the local electoral area of Bandon-Kinsale (six seats); West Cork (eight seats) and Blarney-Macroom (six seats).
This time out, Bandon-Kinsale remains unchanged, with six seats. However, the West Cork Municipal District has been abolished and has been split into Bantry with four seats and Skibbereen with five seats.
Blarney-Macroom is now simply Macroom, as Blarney is now becoming part of the city, and retains its six seats.
The boundary changes’ most controversial impact is that large areas to the east of Clonakilty, including the villages of Ring, Darrara, Lislevane, Timoleague, Courtmacsherry and Butlerstown have been moved into the Bandon-Kinsale LEA due to the abolition of the West Cork district.
This has not been received well by large numbers of voters or candidates, who’ll be losing out on large support bases.
However, on the flip side, political commentators have said that changes to constituency boundaries can create opportunities for new candidates to compete for seats.
The main parties of FF and FG have already mainly declared their candidates, comprising a mix of known and unknown faces.
And this week former SF member Peadar Toibin’s new party, AonTú, announced a number of candidates, including Mairead Ruane for Bandon-Kinsale. Candidates can declare their intention to run until roughly the start of May. With a total of 15 seats up for grabs, and already well over 20 declared, the competition, as always, will be lively.
On May 24th the country will also be asked to vote on the Divorce Referendum. If the referendum is passed, the Government will bring forward a Bill to amend the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to reduce the minimum living apart period for spouses applying for divorce to two years during the previous three years, from four years during the previous five years.
The line-up so far
Bandon-Kinsale: Cllrs John O’Sullivan, Courtmacsherry; Kevin Murphy, Kinsale and newcomer Gerard Seaman, Bandon whose family are known in the motor industry.
Skibbereen: JJ Walsh, constituency chairman; Yvonne Cahalane, who successfully campaigned for her son to be legally allowed take cannabis oil for a serious medical condition; Karen Coakley, former Skibbereen Mayor. Bantry: former TD Noel Harrington; newcomer Katie Murphy, grand daughter of former TD Michael Pat, and newcomer John Dineen, who works in Barrett Agri. Macroom: sitting Cllrs Michael Creed and Ted Lucey and newcomer Eileen Lynch.
Skibbereen: Cllr Paul Hayes.
Bandon-Kinsale: Cllr Gillian Coughlan; Clonakilty teacher Dermot Brennan. Skibbereen: Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, Cllr Joe Carroll and Deirdre Kelly who works for Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony. Bantry: Newcomer George Gill and county mayor Patrick Gerard Murphy. Macroom: Cllr Gobnait Moynihan.
Skibbereen: Evie Nevin. Bantry: Holly McKeever Cairns. Macroom: Sile Ní Dhubhghaill.
Bandon-Kinsale: Mairead Ruane
Skibbereen: Sean Creedon.
Bantry: Lorraine Deane-Ross
Cllr Danny Collins, Bantry LEA; Cllr Declan Hurley (Dunmanway), Skibbereen LEA; Finbarr Harrington (Beara), Bantry LEA.