Eight candidates interested in filling the vacant post of Fianna Fáil Portlaoise councillor

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Eight candidates interested in filling the vacant post of Fianna Fáil Portlaoise councillor

Eight Laois Fianna Fáil supporters including one woman have put their names forward to become a councillor in the Portlaoise Municipal district.

The seat is vacant since last April when Fianna Fáil Cllr Jerry Lodge passed away after a short illness, while in his 51st year of serving as a public representative.

Last Thursday, June 7 the Laois Cumann met with Fianna Fáil head office to discuss his replacement.

The people who have expressed an interest to Laois Fianna Fáil in being chosen as his replacement are all living in the Portlaoise electoral area, with several from rural areas around the town.

They are John O’Neill, Dan Carmody, Dom Dunne, David Ryan, Donal Kelly, Noel O’Rourke, Pauline Madigan and Brian Brennan.

The replacement will be chosen in early July, Laois Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming has confirmed to the Leinster Express.

“The two criteria for me and the party is that they must be a person from Portlaoise town who can hold the seat in the local elections next May,” he said.

“We will hear back from head office next week as to what the process will be, whether it be conventions or interviews, but we want the person in situ in early July, before the July council meeting,” Deputy Fleming said.

Tony Flanagan is chairman of the Portlaoise cumann.

“Jerry was the longest serving councillor in Ireland so the person who replaces him, he or she will have to be capable of getting elected at the next election, that is the general feeling of the cumann. It will be a democratic decision,” Mr Flanagan said.

There has been tension over the selection.

If the new councillor does not retain the Fianna Fáil seat in the next local election, it would mean a shake up of power in the district.

Two more Fianna Fáil councillors have seats in the seven seat district, Cllrs Catherine Fitzgerald from Portlaoise and John Joe Fennelly from Abbeyleix.

Two more are held by Fine Gael Cllr Willie Aird from Portlaoise and Mary Sweeney from Ballyroan, and one each by Sinn Féin Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley and Labour's Cllr Noel Tuohy, both from the town.

There is a boundary review underway which could see the Portlaoise municipal district shrink to focus on the urban area.

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In the last local election in 2014, four candidates out of 16 in Portlaoise Municipal District were from Fianna Fáil. Three were elected but two, the late Cllr Lodge and Cllr Fitzgerald, had a combined first preference vote of just over 1,500. Both were the last two to be returned and thus retain their seats.

Cllr Aird from Portlaoise topped the poll at 1,450.