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Local elections: 'Battle-royale' in Bandon-Kinsale; Crowded plates in Skibbereen and Bantry

May 14th, 2024 1:34 PM

By Southern Star Team

Local elections: 'Battle-royale' in Bandon-Kinsale; Crowded plates in Skibbereen and Bantry Image
A view of proceedings at the re-count in Cork County Hall in 2019. Will there be recounts this year? (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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With less than a month to go until voting begins, The Southern Star takes a closer look at the state of play in West Cork's electoral areas, in what will be hotly-contested local elections – click here for more election coverage


Bandon Kinsale LEA ready for 'battle-royale' in tight contest

The battle for seats in the Bandon-Kinsale LEA will be a close one, according to pundits.



WITH six seats up for grabs in the Bandon-Kinsale area it is already looking to be one of the more cutthroat electoral battles in Cork county, with 12 candidates so far having declared their intention to run.

Four sitting councillors are hoping to retain their seats, six new faces are entering the political race and a familiar face is hoping to make a comeback in local politics.

This geographical area of Bandon Kinsale takes in Bandon, Kinsale, Riverstick, Belgooly and Innishannon, Kilbrittain, Ballinadee as well as areas like Ring, Darrara, Lislevane, Timoleague, Courtmacsherry and Butlerstown.

Five years ago Fine Gael won three seats, Fianna Fáil picked up two and Independents won one. But the political landscape has significantly changed since 2019 and nothing is guaranteed in politics. Could any of the newcomers cause a political upset or will the status quo remain?

What is significant for next month’s local election is that two sitting councillors, Fine Gael’s Kevin Murphy – the second-longest serving councillor in Cork County Council with 37 years of experience – and his party colleague, John O’Sullivan are both stepping down from politics. Fine Gael strategists will be keen to hold onto these two seats for the party as well as taking three seats again, just like they did in 2019.

Fine Gael is fielding three candidates again including sitting Kinsale-based councillor Marie O’Sullivan, newcomer John Michael Foley from Timoleague and Bandon-native Gerard Seaman, who narrowly lost out on claiming the final seat five years ago. With the loss of Murphy and John O’Sullivan, some observers feel that three seats may be a big ask but it’s all to play for and will depend on transfers too.

For political pundits, all eyes will be focused on how Fianna Fáil will fare as it has chosen – some might say unwisely – to field three candidates just like they did in 2019. They managed to secure two seats last time but can they do one better and claim a third seat at the expense of Fine Gael?

All three candidates are Bandon-based and it may prove difficult with so many candidates running in the town.

Former TD and councillor Margaret Murphy O’Mahony is running and hoping to win a Council seat, which she held until becoming the first female TD to be elected in the Cork South West constituency in the 2016 General Election. She lost her Dáil seat four years later in the 2020 General Election but she has always indicated her desire to return to local politics, and the mum of two is hoping to kickstart her political career again.

However, she faces a formidable task as she is running alongside sitting councillor colleague and former county mayor, Gillian Coughlan (who topped the poll in 2019) and Sean O’Donovan, current chair of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District. Coughlan performed extremely well in topping the poll in what was her first election outing, having previously been co-opted to Cork County Council in 2016, following the election of Murphy O'Mahony to Dáil Eireann that year.

Sean O’Donovan has performed well too since his election five years ago so it will be very interesting to see how this will pan out. Can all three Fianna Fáil candidates secure seats? Or will there be casualties?

Fianna Fáil bosses may have missed a trick by not fielding a candidate from the Kinsale area as that eastern side doesn’t have a local candidate from the party running this year. In fact, the number of candidates from this part of the municipal district is lacking across all parties, with just Fine Gael’s Marie O’Sullivan representing the coastal town.

In stark contrast, Bandon has been described by one local observer as a ‘hotbed’ due to the number of candidates in the town.

So far, it stands at three Fianna Fáil, one Fine Gael, one Social Democrat, and a spanner was thrown into the mix last month when Bandon publican John Collins – brother to TD Michael Collins and Cllr Danny Collins – announced that he is contesting a seat in Bandon Kinsale with Independent Ireland, the party his brother Michael established with Richard O’Donoghue late last year.

The dad of two and owner of Chaplin’s Bar is no stranger to politics and has plenty of experience from working in his brother’s constituency office in Bandon. He is one of three Independent Ireland candidates running in the local elections in West Cork and his declaration to run in Bandon Kinsale could see him win a seat for the newly established party, causing a huge political upset. Could he top the poll or scrape one of the final seats?

For the first time ever, the Social Democrats are running a candidate in Bandon Kinsale with community activist Ann Bambury hoping to win a seat for the party. New to politics, the mum of four has been active in the community in recent years due to her work on securing a new play park in the town. Many young parents may know her from this campaign so it will be interesting to see if this transfers to actual votes on polling day.

Judging by a recent vox-pop carried out by The Southern Star, in Bandon the hot topic of pay parking and lack of car park spaces in the town will be one many business owners will no doubt be asking the candidates when they come knocking looking for their votes. While welcoming the continuous public realm works in the town, many fear that a lack of car park spaces will deter shoppers from coming into the town.

The Cork Green Party’s director of elections, Stephen Spillane has also recently announced his intention to stand as a candidate. The former Fine Gael activist switched to the Greens in recent years having grown disillusioned with his former party.

And let’s not forget Alan Coleman – he is one of only two independent candidates running in Bandon Kinsale – who impressively received 2,350 first preference votes in 2019, trailing just behind Coughlan who got 2,762 first preference votes. He secured a seat for Fianna Fáil in 2014 before leaving the party and running as an independent in 2019 and retaining his seat. Coleman has strong support on the eastern side of the municipal district and he is expected to poll well in areas like Riverstick, Belgooly and Kinsale.

Another independent candidate recently confirmed to contest a seat in Bandon Kinsale is Brendan Piper, who owns Piper’s Funfair, which regularly pitched in Kinsale for many years. His battle with Cork County Council over the payment of a bond in order to set up his funfair at the town park will be one of his priorities if he gets elected.

Sinn Féin has selected Ballineen resident Clare O’Callaghan to run in Bandon Kinsale and hopes to reclaim a seat that the party first won 10 years ago with former councillor Rachel McCarthy. She stepped down from politics ahead of the 2019 Local Elections, but topped the poll in 2014 giving the party a firm foothold in Bandon and Kinsale.

Five years ago though, the party’s candidate, Noel Harrington failed to retain the seat for them. They may have a strong candidate in Clare, who could cause an upset and nab one of the six available seats in the area.

At the last local elections in 2019, businessman and dad of two Gerard Seaman polled respectively in what was his first local election outing and narrowly lost out on taking the last seat. The Bandon native and chair of Cork South West Fine Gael is hoping to do one better this time around and win a seat. His higher profile and experience of already running a campaign could possibly stand to him.

A new Fine Gael candidate running this year is Timoleague-based funeral director, farmer and dad of four John Michael Foley. He was selected at the Cork South West party convention late last year along with Seaman and both candidates are hoping to help the party keep their three seats, that they have held since 2019. It is certainly is all to play for and all eyes will be eagerly fixed at the count centre in Clonakilty on Saturday evening June 8th when the votes will be counted, after first being separated in Mallow earlier that day.

What happened in 2019?

The election results for Bandon Kinsale in 2019. (Photo: Wikipedia)


Fianna Fáil’s Gillian Coughlan topped the poll with the most first preference votes (2,762) in the 2019 local election and performed very well in what was her first local election contest, having been co-opted into her Council seat, following the election to the Dáil of Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.

Hot on her political heels was Alan Coleman, who received 2,350 first preference votes, just 412 votes behind her and as an independent candidate (and former Fianna Fáil member ) he polled extremely well when pitted against the big hitters like Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Fine Gael won the next three seats with Kevin Murphy receiving 1,769 first preference votes, followed by John O’Sullivan on 1,629 first preference votes while first time candidate, Marie O’Sullivan won 1,343 first preference votes.

The final seat was taken by Fianna Fáil’s Sean O’Donovan who received 1,002 first preference votes. The party’s other candidate Dermot Brennan failed to get elected, while Fine Gael’s Gerard Seaman was also unsuccessful in his first outing for the party.

It is notable that Sinn Féin polled very poorly in 2019, having topped the poll with Rachel McCarthy five years previously. Last time around Noel Harrington received just 376 first preference votes and they are hoping to perform much better this June with Clare O’Callaghan representing the party.

In the end Fine Gael won three seats, Fianna Fáil two and Independent one, so it remains to be seen will it be the same result this June? Or could one of the new candidates such as John Collins, Clare O’Callaghan or Ann Bambury take one of those six seats?

Who will win the six seats?

While it is impossible to predict election results at any time and with less than a month to go before the election, it may be foolish not to bet on Coughlan and Coleman retaining their seats, while Fine Gael could be in with a chance of keeping at least two seats. But John Collins could surprise everyone and claim a seat early on forcing the remaining candidates to fight for the remaining seats.

The battle for what might be the remaining seat could likely be between Sean O’Donovan and Margaret Murphy O’Mahony. But as many in politics know, anything can happen and it all depends on the mood of the voters and whether they want to see a significant political change.

Speaking to The Southern Star former Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy said it will be a very tight contest in Bandon Kinsale.

‘It will be particularly competitive in Bandon town with so many candidates all based there. Of the six seats I certainly think that two independents – Coleman and Collins – will get over the line,’ said Michael.

‘Fine Gael’s Marie O’Sullivan should be able to reclaim her seat and the party could at least win a second seat, having won three last time round. I would also see Fianna Fáil keeping their two seats but whether they get a third remains to be a seen.’

He is describing the fight for the sixth seat as a ‘battle royale’ between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Independents.

Meanwhile, a West Cork Fianna Fáil pundit said the party has three very strong candidates in Bandon.

‘They are all very well thought of but will be very much up against it too. At the moment we have two out of the six seats and to increase that number will be trying especially when we are in government. I don’t think it’s a mistake that we are running three candidates because you can see Fine Gael are also running three.’

He said the introduction of John Collins of Independent Ireland is going to make this local election very interesting.

‘He is based in Bandon and we now have a huge concentration of candidates based around Bandon. I do reckon we will retain our two seats and will be in with a fighting chance for the third seat.’

He expects Alan Coleman to poll well again, just as he did in 2019, where he was second to FF’s Gillian Coughlan.

He is not confident that Sinn Féin will poll well in Bandon Kinsale pointing out that it doesn’t enjoy the same level of support here that it receives in other parts of the country.

‘They did amazingly 10 years topping the poll with Rachel McCarthy but now they have no sitting councillor on Cork County Council following the departure of both Paul Hayes and Danielle Hegarty. I was looking at their candidates in Cork City South West where they are running three, but you see that they are only running one in both Bandon Kinsale and Skibbereen West Cork.’

Another political pundit said that personality and geography are crucial in local elections and there are a lot of ‘permutations and combinations’ when examining the race for seats in the Bandon Kinsale area.

One unknown according to him is John Collins of Independent Ireland.

‘Collins would probably have to top the poll to get elected as he wouldn’t be transfer-friendly as most voters for independents wouldn’t continue their vote preferences for the larger parties. How he performs will certainly dictate the rest of the outcome.’

He said that Fine Gael were the strongest last time around when all three candidates got elected and their vote management worked very well with the transfers.

‘I presume John Michael Foley, who is probably a direct replacement for John O’Sullivan, will do well as will Cllr Marie O’Sullivan down in Kinsale. The problem with getting a third seat is that there is a huge draw on Bandon votes between the three Fianna Fáil candidates, John Collins, Gerard Seaman, Ann Bambury and even Marie O’Sullivan herself who is from there.’

‘My reading of it is that it might be looking ominous for Sean O’Donovan. I do think that Margaret will take some votes from Gillian, who will probably be strong enough to sustain it. There is a second Fianna Fáil seat there but could Margaret snatch it from Sean?'

He doesn’t see Sinn Féin polling well as he believes that O’Callaghan doesn’t have a high enough profile to bring her over the line.

‘There was always a Sinn Féin vote in Bandon and Kinsale and I would have thought that Rachel McCarthy’s poll topping win 10 years ago was very much a personal vote.’

He said Alan Coleman should be able to retain his seat but isn’t so sure the Social Democrats can make a dent in Bandon Kinsale.

How do people in the Bandon-Kinsale LEA feel about the local elections?

Fine Gael strategy in Bantry LEA unclear; Skibbereen LEA crowded

Skibbereen LEA

Bantry LEA



THE people of West Cork can on June 7th use their votes to return eight of the nine sitting councillors in the Skibbereen and Bantry electoral areas, or elect someone new, or nearly new – some candidates having previously served as town or county councillors.

In local elections, people tend to vote geographically regardless of what is happening with the political parties at national level, but sitting candidates clearly have an advantage over their rivals because they have a greater public profile.

On this occasion, there are three sitting councillors who were co-opted, not elected. In the Skibbereen area, which has five seats, this will be Fianna Fáil Cllr Deirdre Kelly’s second attempt to try and secure a seat, having missed out in 2019, only to be co-opted when Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) was elected to the Dáil in 2020.

In the Bantry area, which has four seats, this will be a first outing for Cllr Chris Heinhold (SD), having been co-opted to take Cllr Ross O’Connell’s seat. Cllr O’Connell had, in turn, been co-opted after Holly Cairns took the third Cork South West seat in the 2020 general election for the Social Democrats.

Schull resident, Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG), who was co-opted in March 2022 when Cllr Katie Murphy stepped down from local government, will also be standing for the first time in the Bantry area.

Pundits are predicting a keen contest in the Skibbereen area, which has 15 candidates in the race for five seats, while there are 10 candidates in the running for the four seats in the Bantry area, both of which form the West Cork Municipal District.

Political commentators are predicting that the electorate in Skibbereen will return two of the sitting councillors, namely Fianna Fáil’s Joe Carroll and his party colleague Deirdre Kelly, and that two candidates seeking a return to public life – namely Noel O’Donovan and Brendan McCarthy – will take two seats for Fine Gael.

If the pundits are correct, the fifth seat – which is about to be vacated by former Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) – will see one or two of the new candidates battling it out with sitting Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind), who was returned on the ninth count in 2019, and Cllr Karen Coakley, who took the fourth seat for Fine Gael in 2019, but is now standing as an Independent candidate.

Cllr Coakley, who was previously elected to the town council in 2009 and was the town’s last mayor before the abolition of that form of local government, knows she is facing an uphill battle. Without the backing of a party, she will need to garner an estimated 1,800 first preference votes if she is to be in with a chance of being re-elected.

Meanwhile, 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.

Pundits in the Bantry area are giving odds on three of the four sitting councillors – Cllr Danny Collins (Ind Ire), Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG) and Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) – being returned to Cork County Council, leaving it another major battle for the fourth and final seat.

Political commentators believe that Cllr Chris Heinhold’s co-opted seat is the one that is most vulnerable and will be targeted.

As a newcomer, Chris may not be strong enough to see off some of the challengers on his doorstep.

Although he has a high profile in Bantry as a local restaurant owner, and can draw on the backing of a party that is on the up in the opinion polls, Chris Heinhold will be under pressure from Independent candidate, Finbarr Harrington, who famously lost out on a council seat by a single vote to Holly Cairns (SD) in 2019.

That two-day re-count in County Hall is the stuff of legend. Nothing like it has been seen before or since and it generated a social media frenzy with local, national and international commentators glued to the count and the outcome.

Holly Cairns and supporters celebrating her first election success – by a margin of one vote, after a long recount – at County Hall in Cork in May 2019 (Photo: Martin Walsh)


Aontú’s candidate in the Bantry area, Patrick Murphy – who straddles a home base in Ballydehob to Beara, where he is ceo at the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation – will also be a force to be reckoned with as he is standing in both the local and the Ireland South European election and could draw considerable support from hard-pressed fishermen.

Another Bantry contender, Helen O’Sullivan, who lives in the Mealagh Valley, is considered to be a strong voice for the farming community. Helen, who helped to establish the Farmers’ Alliance and is now standing as a first-time Independent candidate, could garner a lot of support from the farming community. But it is considered unlikely that she will be strong enough to take a seat on her first outing.

Cllr Danny Collins (Ind Ire) and Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) also loom large on Chris Heinhold’s doorstep, while another contender, former council member Danny Crowley (FF), is well known for his work with YouthReach in Bantry and has a high profile on the Beara Peninsula.

Danny Crowley was first elected to Cork County Council in 2004 and he was re-elected in 2009. He left the party for a time but re-joined the party in recent years and was added to the Fianna Fáil ticket in the Bantry electoral area.

With Danny Crowley and Patrick Gerard Murphy both running in Beara, Patrick Gerard’s first preferences are likely to be down because they could split the vote.

With three successful elections already under his belt, Patrick Gerard has 16 years of experience as a public representative to his credit and is expected to prevail.

A split in Patrick and Danny’s vote could put Finbarr Harrington (Ind) ahead on first preferences, but Fianna Fáil transfers could reclaim lost ground and put Danny Crowley (FF) and Finbarr Harrington (Ind) in contention for the fourth seat.

Patrick Gerard has, in the past, benefited greatly from second preference transfers from Cllr Danny Collins (Ind Ire).

The prediction is that Cllr Danny Collins, who was first co-opted in 2020 after his brother Michael Collins took a seat in Dáil Eireann and was elected as an Independent councillor in 2019, will top the poll regardless of the fact that he has since aligned with his brother’s Independent Ireland party.

A strong first preference vote is vital for any candidate under Ireland’s proportional representation system of election. A few hundred extra first preference votes could be all that a candidate needs to pull ahead on transfers.

Some are also predicting that Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG), who has built up a strong support base in the Bantry area over the last two years, could also be returned to Cork County Council.

But it is Fine Gael’s selection process and the division of the Bantry area under the party’s strict vote management system that is generating the most chatter in this election.

Cllr Cronin comfortably won the party’s selection convention but in the New Year, the party executive made the decision to add first time candidate Mary Lou Maguire Leahy to the Bantry ticket.

Claims are being made that Cllr Cronin has been given just parts of each of the three peninsulas to canvas – from the outskirts of Ballydehob to the Mizen; from Durrus to the Sheep’s Head; and from Castletownbere to Ardgroom.

Some say it represents a fair division, but others are asking if Fine Gael has put her at a disadvantage. The strategy is unclear. Is the party so confident of Cllr Cronin’s chances of being returned that they are hoping to bring her running mate across the line with transfers?

The return of two Fine Gael female candidates in the Bantry area is considered unlikely and the worst-case scenario, according to some observers, is that they would cancel each other out if their first preference votes are dissipated. The irony of it is that the sitting councillor – Caroline Cronin – is now being spoken of in terms of being the underdog.

Fine Gael has always traded on its vote management strategy, and its reading of the tallies, but every election throws up surprises such as Holly Cairns, the leader of the Social Democrats, scuppering Tim Lombard’s chance of taking a seat for Fine Gael in the 2020 general election.

Being married to the very well-known Skibbereen man Brendan Leahy, who is a paramedic, a former Labour town councillor and former mayor, will certainly add to Mary Lou Maguire Leahy’s chances – except for the fact that the boundary for the Bantry area is located on the outskirts of Skibbereen town.

In the Skibbereen area, Fine Gael has gone for tried and tested candidates with Brendan McCarthy, who previously served two terms on the town council and twice as mayor, 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.

Like Bantry, the Skibbereen area has been divided so that Noel O’Donovan can maximise his chances in the Dunmanway area while Brendan McCarthy will be canvassing Skibbereen town.

There’s even speculation that a good local election for Noel O’Donovan could earn him a place on Fine Gael’s general election ticket, which might come shortly after the October budget, or in the New Year.

They are not the only former councillors seeking re-election. Another former member of Skibbereen Town Council, Donnchadh Ó Seaghdha (SF) has, after a long absence from local government, decided to stand again and is hoping to get a boost from Sinn Féin’s popularity in the polls.

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

As things stand, Sinn Féin had eight seats on Cork County Council after the 2019 election, but subsequently dropped to two. Those two, including Cllr Paul Hayes, defected leaving the party currently unrepresented on the Council.

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

He is considered to be an unknown quantity and could, potentially, upset Fine Gael’s well-laid plans. A first preference vote of 1,000 might be all he needs to take on Paul Hayes’s mantle as an Independent councillor for the town.

Fianna Fáil, for example, appears to be boxing clever with three candidates who are considered to be geographically well-placed. Cllr Joe Carroll is in Skibbereen; Cllr Deirdre Kelly is in Dunmanway; and Pádraig O’Reilly is in Clonakilty.

Knowledgeable pundits are predicting that Joe Carroll will top the poll – which would be a step up from having taken the second seat in 2014 and 2019 – because at the age of 72 he is considered a hardworking and feisty advocate for the area.

The saying is that all politics is local, so transfers could favour Joe’s Independent counterpart in Skibbereen town, Karen Coakley, but if the Fianna Fáil vote management strategy does what it is supposed to transfers are likely to favour his running mate Deirdre Kelly in Dunmanway, and Pádraig O’Reilly in Clonakilty.

This time out, Karen Coakley will also have to contend with Noel O’Donovan and Brendan McCarthy on her doorstep, which could leave her in a fight for the final seat.

Karen’s defection from Fine Gael – which came about after she made complaints about the way her last election campaign was handled – left Fine Gael without a sitting councillor so the party has redoubled its efforts by standing two strong candidates, both of whom are geographically well-placed – with O'Donovan in Rosscarbery and Dunmanway, and McCarthy canvassing his home base in Skibbereen.

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.

Whatever way you look at it, the plate in Clonakilty appears crowded. Last time out, after the boundary changes, voters returned just one public representative, Cllr Paul Hayes, despite the fact that his own home in Courtmacsherry had shifted into the Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District.

Paul took the fifth and final seat in the Skibbereen area, which of course includes the towns of Clonakilty and Dunmanway, despite having lost much of his support base.

If Clonakilty voters want a voice at the table, they may also choose to support Labour’s Evie Nevin who previously stood as a Social Democrat candidate but failed to be elected in 2019.

Meanwhile, the new Independent Ireland party has selected Daniel Sexton, who works in Skibbereen but lives in Clonakilty, as its candidate in the same area.

In addition, the 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 in the crucial first preference vote. Another Independent candidate Barry O’Mahony, who was prompted to stand because of the sewage problem in Shannonvale, on the outskirts of Clonakilty, may also find it hard to secure enough first preference votes to take a seat.

Clonakilty, as an urban centre, offers rich pickings because there is an estimated 5,000 votes, compared to Skibbereen’s 3,000, and Dunmanway’s 2,000, so whoever secures the greatest first preference vote could streak ahead in this election.

Today, as things stand, the perception is that Skibbereen town has two sitting councillors: Joe Carroll and Karen Coakley; and that Dunmanway has two in Declan Hurley and Deirdre Kelly.

People, whoever they vote for, will want a local government representative because the numbers have been vastly reduced when compared with pre-2014 figures.

It is only a decade since the abolition of town councils, or town commissioners, but people are just now counting the democratic deficit.

Taking Skibbereen as an example, it had nine town councillors and two county councillors in Brendan Leahy (Lab) and Adrian Healy (FG), but overnight the number dropped to just five public representatives for the greater Skibbereen electoral area, and four public representatives for the Bantry electoral area, including all of the areas in between.

In addition, rates and development charges, which were once collected and spent locally by town councils are now going into the County Council’s coffers.

This time out, Lorraine Deane is seeking, for the second time, to secure a seat for Aontú in the Skibbereen area, having previously failed to secure a seat in 2019.

The Green Party has put forward the well-known environmentalist Rory Jackson, from Tragumna, for the Skibbereen area and it selected another first-time candidate in retired school teacher Liz Coakley Wakefield to stand in the Bantry area. Liz, whose mother is from Drimoleague, is not new to politics. She previously served as an elected councillor in Brighton in the UK from 2011 to 2015.

Voter dissatisfaction may or may not result in a backlash against the three parties in Government – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party – but the one variable that could turn everything on its head would be a low voter turnout.

In the two recent referendums, voters showed their frustration by staying away in their droves.

By the same measure, it has been suggested that Independent candidates – including those standing for the Independent Ireland party, which is led by Cork South West TD Michael Collins – could score big with a disaffected electorate.

Candidates have until May 18th next to submit their nominations, or indeed withdraw from the race, so there may yet be a surprise when the results are announced at the count at Clonakilty’s community hall on Sunday June 9th next.

How do people in the Bantry and Skibbereen West Cork LEAs feel about the local elections?


Local elections: 'Battle-royale' in Bandon; Crowded plates in Skibbereen and Bantry is the latest in The Southern Star's digital-only series, The Big Story.

Each part of this series brings readers closer to the stories that matter. The Big Story is only available to Southern Star subscribers.

Written by Southern Star reporters Jackie Keogh and Kieran O'Mahony. Produced and edited by Southern Star digital manager Dylan Mangan.

Find other Big Stories by clicking here. Keep up to date with election coverage here.

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