OUTGOING county mayor Cllr Gillian Coughlan has serious ambitions to be a Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South West.
The Bandon woman, who is due to hand over her mayoral chain, said she has ‘put a lot of time and effort into representing Fianna Fáil (FF) over the past 10 years’, and if the opportunity presents itself, she will definitely seek nomination, for the second time, to run as a candidate in the next election.
‘This time 10 years ago I became mayor of Bandon. I’ve put a lot of work in. I’ve done everything to the best of my ability, I’ve no regrets whatsoever, but I know it doesn’t work like that in politics, and not just in FF,’ she said.
She was unsuccessful in her bid to run in 2016, losing out to former TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, and has since been approached by other parties, including Sinn Féin.
‘I would love to be a TD, there’s no doubt about that, I’d always have said that. That said, there’s more to that decision at this point in time than just saying “yes.”
‘There are always considerations in the party, and strategising as regards to West Cork, because if you’re in it, you’re in it to win it,’ she said.
She also said that nationally, politics had changed since she last sought a nomination.
‘We’re seeing moves to the left in particular, with the rise of Sinn Féin, and so any potential candidate would want to think very carefully about where their support base is.
‘I will have those conversations with my party colleagues and party leader, but the fundamentals don’t change. I would love to be a Fianna Fáil TD,’ she said.
Despite being passed over in 2016, Cllr Coughlan said she has a ‘very cordial’ relationship with her party leader.
‘I look forward to seeing him in Courtmacsherry over the summer, and having the conversation with him,’ she said. She described sitting TD Christopher O’Sullivan as ‘very competent’.
‘He has done very well in the role over the past two years, so it’s not something to be sneezed at either, when we already have good representation. In fairness to everyone involved I will have to start the conversation over the summer; ask Micheál and rest of party hierarchy, what is the strategy and will there be one or two party candidates in Cork South West.’
Deputy Christopher O’Sullivan said he intends to run in the next election – which has to be held by February 2025 at the latest. ‘Gillian has my full support in the local elections in 2024. I don’t know what the strategy will be for the general election, but with the party at 16% in the polls we have to capitalise on how many seats we can return,’ he said. Meanwhile, the mayoral chain looks set to stay in West Cork with Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) tipped to take the title. The Bantry bar owner is the brother of Independent TD Michael Collins.