Local elections: Boundary shake-up takes hold
With Cork city’s boundary extension seeing the likes of Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Douglas, Blarney and Glanmire coming into the city, there are major changes afoot for voters in this year’s local elections.
Despite the city quadrupling in size, the number of councillors remains at 31.
The northside has been merged into two six-seater electoral wards, Cork City North-East and Cork City North-West. The change splits Blackpool in two, with Cork City North-East welcoming The Glen and Ballyvolane as well as a large chunk from the county including Kilbarry, Dublin Pike, Sarsfield Court, Glanmire and Dunkettle.
Five current city councillors and one county councillor are vying for a seat in the North-East; Fianna Fáil councillors Tim Brosnan and Kenneth O’Flynn, Fine Gael’s Joe Kavanagh and Worker’s Party Cllr Ted Tynan, along with Independent Cllr Ger Keohane. Sinn Féin Cllr Mick Nugent comes into the ward having previously established himself in the North-West, topping the vote in 2014.
As well as major residential hubs like Fair Hill, Knocknaheeny, Farranree, Gurranabraher and Sunday’s Well, Cork City North-West will also take in Blarney, a major sticking point in last year’s boundary discussions.
The ward jumps from four councillors to six, with most candidates again coming from the city including Fianna Fáil’s Tony Fitzgerald and John Sheehan, Sinn Féin’s Kenneth Collins and Thomas Gould, Independent Joe O’Callaghan and Solidarity’s Fiona Ryan. Independent County Cllr Kevin Conway, who is currently running his campaign from hospital as he battles cancer, is also hoping to be elected to the ward.
On the southside, the controversial inclusion of Ballincollig in Cork City South-West, now the most populous city ward, irked the likes of Fine Gael’s Derry Canty, who nevertheless joins party colleague PJ Hourican, Fianna Fail’s Fergal Dennehy, Sinn Fein’s Henry Cremin and Independent Thomas Moloney in re-running in the seven-seater ward. With several retirements, there is opportunity for the likes of Sinn Féin first-time runner Eolan Ryng and Fine Gael candidates Sinead Ronan and Garret Kelleher, the latter of whom marginally missed out on a county seat in 2014.
Cork City South-East is arguably one of the most competitive wards, with a total of eight city and county councillors battling for only six seats. Douglas-based Deirdre Forde, Mary Rose Desmond and Joe Harris see their area come into the city, with Cobh Cllr Diarmaid O’Cadhla also running in the ward. They will be up against existing city big hitters Des Cahill, Terry Shannon, Chris O’Leary and Kieran McCarthy. Labour’s Peter Horgan is the most prominent first-time runner, and will be hoping to make inroads after a vocal campaign.
Six-seater Cork City South-Central is the smallest ward, encompassing areas like Ballyphehane, the Lough, UCC and a large part of the city centre south of Patrick’s Quay, also taking in parts of Togher and Grange.
Fianna Fáil councillor Seán Martin is running again, as are current Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn and publican Paudie Dineen, both independents. South-Central is the only ward where Fine Gael lack any representation, and they have put forward barrister Shane O’Callaghan. Sinn Féin will run councillors Fiona Kerins, who finished second to Cllr Finn by just three votes in 2014, and Eoghan Jeffers, who comes in from the county. Independent Graham O’Shea is hoping to become the first deaf councillor in the city.
While turnout is difficult to predict, a Cork Independent Twitter poll conducted this week found that 84 per cent of respondents intend to vote in Friday's elections. Turnout at both the 2014 local and European elections was just 52 per cent.