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Skibbereen could be most hotly-contested area with 15 in running for five seats

May 20th, 2024 11:35 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Skibbereen could be most hotly-contested area with 15 in running for five seats Image

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SKIBBEREEN is likely to be one of the most keenly contested elections because there are four sitting councillors and 11 other candidates hoping to be returned to the five-seater electoral area, which forms part of the West Cork Municipal District.

From left: Fianna Fáil’s Joe Carroll could be first past the post; FG’s Noel O’Donovan is hoping to return to the County Council; this time Cllr Karen Coakley is going as an independent.


One of the sitting councillors, Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF), will be standing for the first time, having missed out on a chance in 2019, only to be co-opted to the Council when Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) was elected to the Dáil in 2020.

There is a general consensus that Fianna Fáil’s Joe Carroll could be first past the post, but Fianna Fáil has been strategic in standing three candidates in three key areas: Cllr Carroll in Skibbereen; Cllr Deirdre Kelly in Dunmanway; and first-time candidate Pádraig O’Reilly in Clonakilty town.

Fine Gael is currently without a councillor on the West Cork Municipal District following Cllr Karen Coakley’s decision to leave the party and become an Independent councillor.

Cllr Coakley took the fourth seat for Fine Gael in 2019,​ and previously served on the town council in 2009, b​ut without the backing of a party she will need an estimated 1,800 first preference votes if she is to be in with a chance of being re-elected.

This time, Fine Gael has gone for tried and tested candidates with Brendan McCarthy, who previously served two terms on the town council, 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.

They are not the only former councillors seeking re-election.

Another former member of Skibbereen​ town council, Donnchadh Ó Seaghdha (SF), has decided to stand again and is hoping to get a boost from Sinn Féin’s popularity in the polls. Meanwhile, the Green Party has put forward the well-known environmentalist Rory Jackson, from Tragumna.

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

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.

But the plate in Clonakilty appears crowded. Voters could be drawn to Labour’s Evie Nevin who previously stood as a Social Democrat candidate but failed to be elected in 2019, or Independent Ireland’s Daniel Sexton, who works in Skibbereen but lives in Clonakilty.

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, while Independent candidate Barry O’Mahony is campaigning on local issues, such as the sewage problem in Shannonvale, which is impacting on Clonakilty’s water supply.

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.

If the pundits are correct, the fifth seat will see one or two of the new candidates battling it out with sitting Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind)​ and Cllr Karen Coakley.

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