Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Connaughton will decide next month where to runAugust 16, 2012 - 8:36am
SEPTEMBER will be decision time for a Galway East TD who must decide in which constituency he will contest the next general election – and it is not an easy choice to make.
Fine Gael’s Deputy Paul Connaughton jnr. insisted to The Connacht Tribune that he still had not made up his mind where to run following the boundary revision which has taken almost 2,500 votes away from him and divided his support in the process.
It was the worst possible news for Deputy Connaughton when the Constituencies Commission announced that Galway East was to be reduced to a three seat constituency while an area stretching from Ballinasloe to Dunmore was now to be included in a new Galway-Roscommon constituency.
In 2011 he topped the poll with 7,255 first preferences but a large chunk of his vote has been included in the new Roscommon constituency, which now includes Ballinasloe town, Clontuskert, Ballygar, FIilliamstown, Glenamaddy along with parts of his home town of Mountbellew and Dunmore.
The Fine Gael HQ want Connaughton to contest in the three seat Galway-Roscommon constituency where he would be coming up against former party TD Denis Naughten (now an independent) and Ming Flanagan.
However, the wise money is on Connaughton remaining in Galway East where he will be engaged in a much anticipated battle with his colleague and junior Minister Ciaran Cannon.
“There are people who would buy tickets for a front row seat in this contest,” remarked a prominent FG source in Galway East.
Deputy Connaughton said that despite all of the speculation, conjecture and rumours, he still had not made up his mind where he would be standing and added that he was still as busy in Ballinasloe as he was on the other side of the constituency.
“To be quite honest, I still have not decided what I will do and that is the truth. But over the next month I will be analysing the situation and consulting with my supporters and I hope to make an announcement in September,” he said.
In a three seat Galway East constituency, Fine Gael have just an outside chance of taking two seats and junior Minister Cannon is a raging hot favourite to hold onto his seat. The former PD leader has established a solid base in the south of the constituency and is ‘flavour of the month’ with Fine Gael party hierarchy.
It is not known if Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Micheál Kitt will run again as his Castleblakeney base has also gone in with Roscommon but it is likely that there is still an FF seat in the reduced Galway East constituency.
Labour also have a seat through party chairman Deputy Colm Keaveney but he will face stiff opposition from Senator Lorraine Higgins in Athenry while Cllr Sean Canney in Tuam has indicated that he is likely to be an independent candidate.
If Deputy Connaughton opts for Galway East, then it will put paid to any ambitions of Cllr Tom McHugh in Tuam having another crack at Dáil Eireann.