Future for Longford

apkavanagh

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Oct 24, 2003
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Will Longford be split from Roscommon in the next constituency revisions? If so, will it be joined up with Westmeath again? If not, will the strong political divide between Roscommon and Longford continue and act to keep two seats in Longford for Peter Kelly and Mae Sexton/Louis Belton?
 


Collinsite

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Longford probably will rejoin with Westmeath.This will probably be a five seater.Seats should end up 2FF 2FG 1labour
 

tuathadedanann

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Indeed it looks as if Longford will be adjoined with Iarmhi of the Lakes, with maybe the north western part of Meath added in to make it up tonbe a 5-seater. Mr. Collins prognostications look tonbe good to me. Penrose will top the poll; that's the only definite. The big question will be wheter it will be 2 FF and 2 FG after that, or 3 FF and 1 Fg...or maybe 2 FF 1 FG and 1 PD, if Mae Sexton can hold on. I expect that Penrose's strength will prevent a SF breakthrough here - although they should be good for about 4,500 first preferences. Greens will be coming in around the 600-700 mark. My tips: 1. Penrose LAB (First Count), 2. O'Rourke FF (4th Count), 3. Brady FF (8th Count), 4. McGrath FG (10th Count), 5. Between Sexton PD and Belton FG. Cassidy FF to be eliminated on 7th Count and Kelly FF on 9th Count.
 

tuathadedanann

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Than again, the changes involved if Longford is split from Roscommon will be so great that maybe they may just opt for no change at all and postpone major changes until after the 2006 Census. In that case Long-Ros would remain a 4-seater, an enlarged Westmeath become a 4-seater (with addition of north-west Meath) and Meath remain a 5-seater. Would be ideal for FF; they'd certainly gain in Westmeath, and probably hold their 3 in Meath and be still pushing forn 3 seats in Long-Rosc.
 

Collinsite

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FF would not win 3 seats in such a constituency as Longford will not come out in favour of them.They will not get Cassidy, Peter Kelly and O'Rourke elected.mcGrath should be safe for FG,belton will not run it will probably be Senator James Bannon who will benefit strongly from living on the Longford-Westmeath border.Penrose is a cert and Mae Sexton will do well in Longford but Westmeath?She could deny Fg a second seat but I still feel she will suffer ,not because of who she is,but who her party is.
 

apkavanagh

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FF would not win 3 seats in such a constituency as Longford will not come out in favour of them.They will not get Cassidy, Peter Kelly and O'Rourke elected.mcGrath should be safe for FG,belton will not run it will probably be Senator James Bannon who will benefit strongly from living on the Longford-Westmeath border.Penrose is a cert and Mae Sexton will do well in Longford but Westmeath?She could deny Fg a second seat but I still feel she will suffer ,not because of who she is,but who her party is.
If part of north-west Meath is added on, as seems likely, then you have the Johny Brady factor to add in to the FF equation. It could turn into a very messy battle as to which 2 FFers win out; given the geography of the consttiuency it would likely be one out of O'Rourke and Cassidy and one from Brady and Kelly. If Bannon and Sexton do well, then Kelly could lose his seat and his transfers elect two from the others. Would Longford votes be more likely to go to Cassidy or O'Rourke however?
 

Collinsite

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Of the two probablu O'Rourke.In the old constituency she always did well in Longford.She had some contact in North Longford which helped her apparantly.Kelly could loose out to Mae Sexton that is true but I still think FF would win 2 with FG and labour sharing the other 2 seats.That would be 2 Government and 2 opposition seats.
 

buddy30

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I have to agree with you on this one Collinsite. But I would say that Willie Penrose is probably a definate, especially now that labour have control of Mullingar town council. Donie cassidy wil find it hard to get reelected, especially as his area has been depleted in the recent boundry adjustments. Furthermore, I cannot see the O'Rourke dynasty, and the people of Athlone not regaining a seat in that part of the county. there will be less transfers sent from there to other parts of westmeath and indeed longford.

As for longford, I cannot see mae sexton regaining her seat. She defied all the odds to be elected last time out and need Lious Beltons transfers, which she recieved at an unpredented rate. In Longford/westmeath, transfers will go along party lines as it is a more compatable constituency. There is a definate Fianna Fail seat in Longford, and if Kelly runs he will retainthis, although there is talk in some quarters that he is only keeping this seat warm and rumours abound the Philip Reynolds may run if given the nomination. The last seat will probably be Fine gaels, with Paul McGrath and the longford Fine Gael candidate slugging it out. I say the longford candidate as there is no heir apparent to Lious belton just yet. Believe me the nomination process will only be the start of it.
 

Collinsite

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If Fine Gael put forward James Bannon i think he would get elected either at the expense of an FFer or party colleague Paul McGrath.In any case i think any prospective Longford/Westmeath constituency is too small to be a 4seater.One with three large urban areas (Athlone,Mullingar and Longford)surely should be a 5 seater?
 

Collinsite

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If Fine Gael put forward James Bannon i think he would get elected either at the expense of an FFer or party colleague Paul McGrath.In any case i think any prospective Longford/Westmeath constituency is too small to be a 4seater.One with three large urban areas (Athlone,Mullingar and Longford)surely should be a 5 seater?
 

Observer

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If Fine Gael put forward James Bannon i think he would get elected either at the expense of an FFer or party colleague Paul McGrath.In any case i think any prospective Longford/Westmeath constituency is too small to be a 4seater.One with three large urban areas (Athlone,Mullingar and Longford)surely should be a 5 seater?
First of all, Collinsite, it will a 4-seater. That decision has already been made.

Secondly, I imagine that Alan Mitchell and, almost certainly, Frank Kilbride have ideas of their own about who the FG Longford candidate will be.

Penrose is a sure thing next time. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will certainly take one seat each.

For Fianna Fáil, if Mary O'Rourke stands again, she should stand a very strong chance, based partly on the Athlone vote, but also on the basis of her Tribunal evidence disassociating her from the current government and being able to win over some votes that might otherwise not go FF. Cassidy loses a lot of his base because of the boundary changes, and Kelly is a weak enough candidate who will be relying on the Longford county vote. But then I didn't think Kelly was going to do well last time out either, and he surprised me then. But the hostility to this government in general will make it tougher for FF to take 2 seats.

For Fine Gael, I can see there being an almighty tussle for the Longford nomination - Alan Mitchell has made it very clear that he fancies himself as a TD and Kilbride will be waiting in the long grass. Nicky McFadden will be looking for the Athlone vote against Mary O'Rourke. McGrath is low profile enough and might end up in difficulty having to compete against Penrose and losing a slice of north Westmeath.

As for the PDs - well, Mae Sexton taking the seat last time had feck all to do with her being a PD; she got in on the force of personality. That was evident last week when, apart from Brendan Gilmore clambering onto the Town Council, the PDs were nowhere near taking a County Council seat. I suspect that the Mae Sexton vote may have gone to Peggy Nolan in Longford town, but I'd say a lot of it will come back to her at the election. Her only chance next time is to campaign on a "keep 2 TDs in the county" platform. There is no PD organisation in Westmeath that is noticeable, but she will have to almost make a strength out of that weakness. I wouldn't entirely rule her out, but it will be even more of a stroke of luck if she gets back in next time, Abbott or no Abbott.

The Shinners are no danger. While there's a Republican vote in Longford, the organisation is - to put it politely - very weak. They took a grand total of 193 votes in the two north Longford electoral areas last week; they couldn't even find a candidate who lived in the Granard/Ballinalee/Edgeworthstown area.

My money at the moment would still be on FF 2 (O'Rourke - if she stands - and Kelly) FG 1 (Battle Royale) and Lab 1. Of course, if the teenage Thatcherites elsewhere on these forums get their way, it might end up FF 1 FG 2 Lab 1.
 

buddy30

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Jun 12, 2004
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Observer, I have to agree with a lot of your sentiments. It actually good to see that somebody actual has a feel for what is happening on the ground in Longford/Westmeath.

with the recent council elections, there have been many candidates who obtain high personal votes that have thrown their hats in the ring. although i didn't hear kilbride being mentioned, I certainly wouldn't rule it out, although he has to be considered further down on the peeking order when compared to Bannon and Mitchell.

This is going to be a major tussle for the nomination and debates are starting already. bannon should run as he has the profile of Senator, Mitchell should get the nod as he is an Urban based candidate and will pick up transfers from sexton and kelly at a more favourable rate. I've heard such a debate over the weekend and it's hard to call. my money is on Mitchell as he is a proven vote getter and a stratagist. he was the main Architect behind FG getting 3 seats in the mid Longford area, sacrificing his own personel vote to assist Victor kiernan. Peggy nolan has already distanced herself from rumours that she'd be looking for the nomination. some are saying that come the next general election that bannon will run regardless of getting the nomination or not.

In Fianna Fail the story appears equally hazy. Seamus Butler is the latest to throw his hat into the ring and judging on Fianna Fails selection convention for the local elections, Peter kelly may not be a dead cert for the nomination. Locally the parfty is in 2 camps and rumours of philip reynolds willing to throw his hat into the ring has been met with a frosty reception.

In Westmeath, I think Donie cassidy will be a loser, what with an Athlone seat there for the taking. this is an O'Rourke seat and whether mary or some of the family runs, I'd say this will be the second seat to be filled, just behind Penrose. I would suggest that McGrath has to be looked at for the next seat along with Peter Kelly or whatever Fianna fail candidates runs. This is where the dog fight starts. If Longford are to get 2 seats, then it will be at the expense of mcGrath. But i think he has an area large enough to support him and with a second FG candidate running in westmeath, should be sufficient to see him safe.

If I was to put my head on the block I'd suggest the outcome would be: 1 LAB (Penrose) 2 FF (O'Rourke, Kelly) 1 FG (McGrath)
 

Observer

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buddy30:

with the recent council elections, there have been many candidates who obtain high personal votes that have thrown their hats in the ring. although i didn't hear kilbride being mentioned, I certainly wouldn't rule it out, although he has to be considered further down on the peeking order when compared to Bannon and Mitchell.

This is going to be a major tussle for the nomination and debates are starting already. bannon should run as he has the profile of Senator, Mitchell should get the nod as he is an Urban based candidate and will pick up transfers from sexton and kelly at a more favourable rate. I've heard such a debate over the weekend and it's hard to call. my money is on Mitchell as he is a proven vote getter and a stratagist. he was the main Architect behind FG getting 3 seats in the mid Longford area, sacrificing his own personel vote to assist Victor kiernan. Peggy nolan has already distanced herself from rumours that she'd be looking for the nomination. some are saying that come the next general election that bannon will run regardless of getting the nomination or not.
The reason I mention Kilbride is that he's as ambitious as hell and he has things about him that make him more attractive to the non-hardcore FGer than either Bannon or Mitchell. (Having said that, there are things about him that might not be so attractive - I have absolutely no time for the man myself.)

What is there? He has a reputation as an extremely hard worker - those 900-odd votes did not appear out of nowhere in an area which should be fairly strong territory for Fianna Fáil. He has considerable GAA connections - the current county secretary was canvassing with him and was doing tally at the count. He has the music background and the show on Shannonside, so he has name recognition. He has a personable manner, although personally I find him hard to take.

Bannon, on the other hand, comes across as the quintessential south Longford big farmer, and Mitchell is a nice middle class solicitor from the town who might not be seen as having an awful lot in common with many of his constituents (as well as being from Mayo originally). Having said that, the Fine Gael party in Longford would be a lot more big farmer and middle class than the electorate as a whole, so those things might not be handicaps for the selection process.

In Fianna Fail the story appears equally hazy. Seamus Butler is the latest to throw his hat into the ring and judging on Fianna Fails selection convention for the local elections, Peter kelly may not be a dead cert for the nomination. Locally the parfty is in 2 camps and rumours of philip reynolds willing to throw his hat into the ring has been met with a frosty reception.
As I said, I was surprised that Peter Kelly did as well as he did last time - I don't know anyone who particularly likes the man, but somebody must have voted for him. Séamus Butler would have the same sort of profile as Albert Reynolds - successful businessman - but I wouldn't have thought he has the same sort of common touch. Having said that, I've only met him once and first impressions aren't always accurate.

In terms of sheer likeability, Mae Sexton is probably way ahead, but she has the problem of being in the wrong party locally. As a Fianna Fáiler she'd romp home. She certainly strikes me as being a more natural Fianna Fáiler (or Fine Gaeler or Labour person) than a PeeDee - and I mean that as a compliment :).
 

buddy30

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Although you put up a very convincing case for Kilbride, I just cannot see him getting by a convention. I don't in any way want to play down his vote in North longford, but seeing as he has no branch behind him in his stronghold of Edgeworthstown I can see him getting the nomination.

Bannon on the other hand, also has a large vote in his local area and has made no secret of his intention to fill Louis Belton's shoe, I just cannot warm to the idea of him being the best candidate for longford. He just doesn't have an affable nature to impress on the doorstep.

Mitchell on the other hand has been a very unselfish servant for Fine Gael, I take your point about being a middle class solicitor, but i believe he has set up a huge base for himself. the fact that he is not a origionally a longford native, only bears testement to his ability to win and hold seats on both Longford Urban and County Council in successive elections, and is seen by many long serving FG members are local party leader. On top of that, he is the only realistic prospect, from all parties in longford to be capable of holding a ministerial portfolio with out embarressing his constituents.

If Fine Gael are to have any chance of a Longford seat, I really do think that an Urban based candidate is required. This is where the vast majority of votes are. I'm just thinking practically about things now, Fine Gael have a vote to restore in Longford, as this was lost to Mae sexton last time out.

Either way I think it's going to make for interesting viewing from the sidelines. My money is on Mitchell to get the nomination and i sincerely hope he does.

As for Seamus Butler getting the nodd ahead of peter kelly? This is too hard to call. Fianna Fail are still licking their wounds after the Local elections. I think for seamus declaring his intentions to a party divided already will only alienate members and cause for of a rift. I have no doubt Butler is ambitious, he has a lot to prove overthe next couple of years as a councillor, if he wants to leap frog peter kelly. Kelly, does have a common touch and certainly in my opinion makes a better councillor than a TD. Butler is not ready to step up to the mark and win the hearts and minds of the people of Longford. He lacks likeability that kelly does have on the ground.

Mae sexton will poll well i have no doubt, but even if she polls the very same as she did last time, it certainly will not be enough to get her elected. what happened with her election last time was truely amazing, she had less than 1/2 the quota on the first count. party core votes will hold better in this re -aligned constituency and mae is probably sorry that we have reverted back. There will possibly be a certain backlash against the PD's over Cardinal, which was a platform they used at the last GE. abbotts will not be enough for her, I'm afraid.
 

Collinsite

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Kilbride won't get the nomination.He is something of a maverick within FG,always doing his own thing.I t is worth noting that when he was elected no Fine Gaelers cheered.

Mitchel,Bannon and Nolan are the front-runners for the FG nomination.Mitchel and Nolan are both popular in Longford Town and among Fine Gaelers,I accept that.However Bannon's selling point is he gets cross-party support.He is brash and not the most cultured creature in the world but he is known for getting things done.Bannon would have a chance of getting non FG votes which neither of the other two would.

Bannon is idealy placed on the Westmeath border to pick up votes from Westmeath.Neither Mitchel or Nolan would acheive this.Bannon is a Senator and I think FG would be crazy not to run him.he has waited his turn 19years.

Kelly's man Brendan Kearny failled to get elected to the council.The electorate seen him as a puppet for Kelly.Perhaps this is a pointer that Kelly will not be elected as easily as he was last time around/

I still think it'll be 2FF 1FG and 1 labour.If Fine Gael have a good day they could end up with a Longford TD taking the old MacEoin vote and retaining the Westmeath seat.
 

tenderloins

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Mae Sextons was 76 votes ahead of Belton before he was eliminated and won the seat by 55 votes.
There was no FG candidate to pick up Beltons transfers as Connor had been eliminated and Naughten elected at that stage.
Of Beltons 6215 votes Sexton got 2616, Peter Kelly got 1313.
Greg Kelly and Michael Finneran got 366 between them.
"Votes dont cross the shannon" where evidence from the old Longford-Westmeath constituency suggest that they cross those county borders easier.
The PDs performance in the Locals was poor also.
Between the two county councils FG have more seats than FF.
The area of Westmeath given to the Meath West Constituency is slightly more FF than FG.
So any slight gain by FG should put it at 2FG 1FF and 1 Lab.
I wouldn't put my shirt on it though!
 

MG

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May 25, 2004
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It is very noticeable in Westmeath that people are talking about the need to have a TD from their town (which would include the rural hinterland of course). People don't see this as being a particularly party thing, but in the context of "If there was a Minister from Mullingar we wouldn't be waiting 8 years for the hospital to open." There is a seat in Athlone and it is a FF one. I dunno if it will be O Rourke though, she'll be approaching 70 by the time of the next election. Anyway she would get no votes out of Mullingar and is detested there as she is seen to have grabbed all the goodies for Athlone. I think there is a son she is lining up to continue the dynasty.

The chunk of Westmeath that has gone to Meath is effectively the Coole LEA ward, which used to always be 1 FG and 2 FF. Despite the presence of Donie Cassidy it went 1 FG, 1FF, 1Lab this time as FF lost PJ O Shaughnessy's seat (that family have held the seat since Brian Boru was in short trousers). Slight slippage there of the the FF vote + the population of this area is increasing with commuters, etc. moving into new housing estates. They aren't going to vote FF because because Dev's government gave the family 30 acres in some land division back in the 50s (which is the basis for a lot of the aging FF vote in the area). The SF candidate in Westmeath in the last GE is Niamh Hogg, who suffers from the Donie problem too as she lives in Collinstown, which would also be no longer 'Westmeath'. However she only got 300 odd votes in the ward in locals, so the SF prospects would appear not to be so geographically concentrated as Cassidy's vote is.

There are no PDs at all in Mullingar area. Years back there was the idiot Helena McAuliffe-Ennis who ditched Labour (her father was a respected Labour Senator) just as they were taking off in the constitutency. She joined the PDs and disappeared. In the 1999 locals some junior accountant type no one knew ran for the PDs and got a joke vote.

There is the big farmer seat there for FG, so McGrath is in. Penrose is safe as houses. But assuming Cassidy and O Rourke both decide not to run in Longford/Westmeath the party is stuck with no sitting TD/ex TD as a candidate and introducing new faces. However with the Longford vote factored in they could pull it off. Can't see two FG seats though.

I don't know a whole lot about Longford so may not be giving it enough weight in this assessment. Cassidy could pull some FF votes out of Longford, mainly due to geographical position of Castlepollard, but there would also have to be a Longford seat.

The interesting thing would be if the 2 (complete) counties became a 5 seater and Labour got it's act together in Longford. Could then be 2 Labour, 2 FF and 1 FG.
 

Collinsite

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I think Bannon is FG's biggest hope of a possible second seat.He would pull votes from Westmeath as he already has a profile there.If FG do not get a second seat I would go as far as to say Bannon would take McGrath's seat.With a big Longford FG vote plus a vote from Westmeath,he would be stronger than McGrath who has little hope in Longford
 

thegeneral

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Would a 3 candidate strategy suit FG better? Running McGrath in Mullingar, someone like Nicki McFadden in Athlone and a Longford candidate perhaps someone based in the town. If Bannon runs and McFadden doesn't can he be assured of picking up the Athlone FG vote?

I agree Sexton would appear the most vulnerable. Penrose should be safe though would need a strong increase in the Labour vote from Longford. There would certainly seem to be 2 FF seats here, 1 from Westmeath, probably Athlone based and 1 from Longford. FF will almost certainly run three candidates as well.

It was interesting in Longford/Roscommon only FG votes crossed the Shannon and it is right that this deficient constituency has been corrected. With transfers crossing county boundaries it will be interesting to see how it pans out.
 

buddy30

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I think that FG will go with a 3 candidate strategy. this is how theu operated in 1989 when they returned 2 FG seats in the form of Paul McGrath and Louis Belton. I would also say that Nicky McFadden will run in the Athlone area and cannot see Bannon getting much of a look in here.

I do not consider the point that Bannon's geographical location will pull votes from Westmeath, obviously he would get a certain amount, but then again Penrose is only a few miles up the road in Ballinacarrigy and with his track record will probably hamper Bannon making any significant in-roads into Westmeath, if anything Penrose will impact him more in Longford.

FG can consider themselves lucky having so many potential candidates to accept the nomination. realistically, I think Bannon and Mitchell will be the main 2 before the convention. While nobody will contest than Bannon has near fanatical support in his home base of Legan, I don't think he enjoys the same level of support within FG.I beleive he has fail to make any impact locally as a Senator,and has been less effective than most of the local councillors. Mitchell on the otherhand does enjoy such support and indeed much of the resurgence of the local FG organisation is parially down to Mitchell. Louis belton appreciated this when he appointed Mitchell as his campaign Manager, why didn't he appoint his Long time south Longford Councillor colleague? I think it will be very close, but it's down to FG member who will end up with their name on the ballot paper and that's why I think Mitchell will get the ultimate nod.

whatever the outcome, the one certainty is that if Longford are to pull off a major coup at the next GE, and return a FG TD (assuming FF return a Longford seat), it cannot be done without both Bannon and Mitchell, regardless of which one gets the nomination.
 


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