Monday, July 22, 2024

Candidates to battle for four seats in Longford/Westmeath

Last time around, there were 18 candidates battling it out to win one of the four seats in Longford-Westmeath Constituency in the General Election 2016. In two weeks’ time, it looks as if there will be almost as many, with seventeen names nominated up to Tuesday evening of this week, 21 January.
The closing date for nominations is this Wednesday evening 22 January, and it has been confirmed that the Election Count will take place in Athlone AIT following Polling Day on Saturday, 8 February.
With three of the four outgoing candidates, Robert Troy (FF) who headed the poll in 2016, and Kevin “Boxer” Moran (Ind.) and Peter Burke (Fine Gael) aiming to retain their seats, and Labour’s outgoing TD Willie Penrose, who has been a Dáil member since 1992, not contesting the 2020 election, the candidate with the biggest task is definitely Alan “Budda” Mangan, tying to retain the Labour seat held by Penrose.
At time of going to press, the bookies are rating Robert Toy (FF) as the candidate most likely to head the poll, as he did in 2016, against the odds, but it looks as if Kevin “Boxer” Moran could well be the one to finish first this time, as he has enjoyed a remarkably high profile over the past several years and has a very strong base in Athlone area, and strong links into Longford (with a Ballymahon office). Fine Gael has more than enough supporters in Westmeath and Longford to elect at least one candidate, and Peter Burke seems assured of retaining his seat also.
The major question would seem to be at present, is whether Fianna Fáil in Longford, can succeed in changing the result last time, when the Longford people were left without a candidate, and if Cllr. Joe Flaherty can take the Troy seat. The longtime Longford Co. Council member who topped the poll in local elections last year and exceeded the quota, looks pretty strong, and he seems the most likely person to upset odds.
Topic learned this week that when Labour candidate Alan Mangan arranged a meeting for Castletown Geoghegan last week, upwards of two hundred people attended, and many pledged to support him and he has been canvassing over a wide area, along with among others, party leader Brendan Howlin.
Asked to comment on Alan Mangan’s chances, outgoing TD Willie Penrose said he regards him as “someone who will do much better than some people think and have predicted” and he confirmed that there had been a large number of supporters at his first meeting, and his canvassers were out. “I couldn’t get that many out, so don’t write him off,” he advised. “He is well known and is making a huge effort, so let’s see,” he said.

SEVENTEEN SO FAR
Seventeen candidates have now declared their intention to contest the General Election for the 33rd Dáil on Saturday, February 8 in the fLongford / Westmeath constituency, with nominations closing tomorrow (Wenesday) 22 January.
As stated above, with outgoing Labour man Willie Penrose not in the field, Longford people suggest the battle to fill the seat vacated will be a Longford battle between Fine Gael’s Cllr Micheál Carrigy, the current County Council Cathaoirleach, and Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Joe Flaherty, but this doesn’t take the strength of the Fianna Fail vote in Westmeath, and of Kevin Moran in Athlone fully into account, nor Peter Burke’s profile and incumbency.
Eighteen candidates went forward in the 2016 general election with seats filled by Westmeath-based candidates – Robert Troy (Fianna Fáil, 11,653 first preferences), Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran (Independent Alliance, 7,586 FP), Peter Burke (Fine Gael, 5,681FP) and Willie Penrose (Labour, 4,817FP).

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