Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Oops! Hildergarde needs to watch her step as she bids for that FG ticket spotJuly 13, 2011 - 8:26am
There are a substantial number of people who believe that the shape of the next Fine Gael general election candidate ticket in West Galway may have been decided by the fact that Hildegarde Naughton is the new Mayor of Galway.
However, she is going to have to avoid mistakes such as that of Monday night when she voted against allowing presidential hopeful David Norris to address the City Council – misreading the motion as supporting his bid for presidency.
So, she is going to have to wach her step if that ticket next time is to be made up of sitting Dail Deputies Sean Kyne and Brian Walsh, together with herself. That would be three candidates instead of the four (Kyne, Walsh, Naughton and Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames) who ran last time out.
But I am not ruling out a spirited effort by Senator Healy-Eames, who is as determined as ever that she is going to make it to the Dail and a few months ago came within a 50 vote margin when it came to one of the key eliminations which could have seen her take a Dail seat.
The thinking in some quarters in Galway Fine Gael is that the two sitting TDs – one based in Connemara (Sean Kyne) and one in the eastern side of Galway City (Brian Walsh) – together with Naughton from her west of the Corrib base in Galway City would be ‘a natural.’
But I wouldn’t mention that too loudly to the Healy-Eames camp .... why only last week the Senator announced a series of clinics to be held in places like the city, Clarenbridge and Oranmore. She hasn’t gone away you know.
Meanwhile, Hildegarde Naughton will have to put behind her the Norris fiasco and the fact that she was forced into a climbdown and apology to Councillor Donal Lyons (Independent) and Peter Keane (Fianna Fail) over remarks about re-zoning at a city council meeting, otherwise she would not have got the Mayoralty through an Independents, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael voting pact.
Assuming Naughton can steady her performance lot of this discussion in time to come in FG will centre around whether Fine Gael should have three or four candidates – last February there was a substantial internal row in FG over claims that the fourth candidate could jeopardise a second seat victory ... at the time, three candidates might well have meant that Healy-Eames would have been one of the TDs.
Meanwhile, the rise and rise of Hildegarde Naughton – a shock winner in the Local Elections in 2009 – has seemed unstoppable, though she did run into problems with those city councillors.
She turned up to the Fine Gael local elections selection convention in the Salthill Hotel as a near-unknown, but secured a nomination and then polled 1,050 first preferences in the West Ward (Salthill-Knocknacarra-Claddagh), and then secured a place on the General Election ticket when she was added.
The general election showed that she was a serious contender for the future when she polled 3,600 first preferences, though she was never really in the running for a seat – this time. Now, it remains to be seen how the year goes as Mayor and whether next time out she can secure a slot on the FG ticket.
Meanwhile, though her detractors say that she has now had three outings in an attempt to be elected to the Dail, I am not writing off the chances of Senator Healy-Eames. At a crucial point in the general election count she had reached over 7,000 votes and was within a whisker of surviving to the ultimate point.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.