Sunday, June 21, 2009

 

We win four new seats on Meath County Council

The recent Local and European elections gave the electorate the chance to give Fianna Fail a bloody nose for their performance in government over the last year That’s generally what happens worldwide in other democracies. In Ireland the performance of the government parties varied by party and by area.

The Green Party were virtually wiped out at a local level. They lost the one seat they had on Meath County Council and their most promising candidate, Sean O Buachalla, did poorly in the Dunshaughlin area. His vote declined from 1,330 in the General Election of 2007 to 142 in the local elections just 2 year later. That’s a shocking result for them, given the fact that their candidate, from what I’ve seen of him, is a very able person and would have made a fine councillor.

However the situation was different with the Fianna Fail party. At the last local elections in Meath in 2004 they won about 38% of the vote and 12 seats. This time around they won 30% of the vote and 8 seats. Considering that we are in the middle of the worst economic crisis the country has known and we have by general agreement a fairly lacklustre, tired government that is short on energy after 12 years in power their performance in the elections was fairly remarkable in my view. It certainly is NOT a meltdown!

In the Labour party we worked extremely hard on the campaign. All of our candidates were out there day in, day out. As the overall Director of Elections for the county I was putting in hours all over the county. We increased our share of the vote to about 10%, in the process winning four County Council seats – our best result in decades. So, we had a good election internally and we are celebrating our successes. Still, we have to recognise that we only got a third of the votes countywide that Fianna Fail got. So, we have a lot of building to do if we are to ever match their strength locally.

Picture 187

Cllrs Tracy McElhinney, Jenny McHugh and Niamh McGowan just after being elected. Cllr Eoin Holmes was also returned but is not in the picture.

On Friday last our new Councillors took their places on the benches of Meath County Council in Navan. We have entered coalition with Fine Gael and in return two of our Labour Party councillors will be the Mayor (Cathaoirleach) of Meath County Council in two of the next five years. In addition, we will Chair two of the Strategic Policy Committees for part of the next five years. Two of our Councillors will sit on the VEC and Cllr Tommy Grimes of Kells will be the Chair of the VEC for the next year and a half. We think it’s a good deal – one that will allow us to put Labour Party policies at the heart of the actions of Meath County Council.

The next five years will be about growing locally. These elections have shown two things. Firstly, even in their darkest hours, if we don’t offer people good, alternative candidates, Fianna Fail will still win seats in Meath. Secondly, when we put up good candidates and run good campaigns people will move away from Fianna Fail and elect Labour Councillors. Next time around we will be going for eight seats!

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