Sinn Féin to become city’s biggest party?
A Sinn Féin-led Cork City Council is a real possibility in next year’s local elections as the party looks to rebound from its “disastrous” 2019 performance.
That’s according to Dr Aodh Quinlivan, Director of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance at UCC, who says “anything is possible in politics”.
Dr Quinlivan said there is “every likelihood” that in 2024’s local elections Sinn Féin will regain many of the seats it lost nationally in 2019.
“It would not be an enormous surprise if it (Sinn Féin) doubled its representation in 2024 and emerged as the biggest political grouping in City Hall,” he told the Cork Independent.
The UCC political expert also pointed out that in 2014, Sinn Féin was the big winner in the local elections, taking an unprecedented 159 seats nationally.
However, in 2019, the party lost 78 seats, falling to 81 nationally.
One of the casualties was Sinn Féin Cllr Chris O’Leary who had been elected as lord mayor in 2015 becoming the first Sinn Féin lord mayor in 90 years.
“The Sinn Féin councillors in City Hall have acquitted themselves well and I do not think smaller parties and Independents would have too many problems in coalescing with them,” continued Dr Quinlivan.
He added: “Councillors from smaller parties and Independents could see opportunities for themselves in terms of the Mayoralty and committee chairs in a Sinn Féin-led council. There will be many permutations post the 2024 local elections to get to the magic number of 16 to control the council.”
Earlier this week, Sinn Féin Cllr Fiona Kerins claimed her party can win three City Council seats in Cork South Central in next year’s elections.
Her comments came as she was officially joined on the party's ticket by Sinn Féin hopefuls Eoghan Jeffers (Grange) and Luke McGrath (Pouladuff Road).
“I believe it's time for a Sinn Féin-led City Council,” said Cllr Kerins.
“The desire for political change locally is growing by the day. Those left behind and let down by government policies want a change of direction and they know that this change can start at the local elections in June,” she added.
Mr Jeffers, who previously represented the Grange and Frankfield area on Cork County Council, said: “The main priority for the next term of the City Council must be real affordable housing. The private market is not going to fix this housing crisis and the City Council needs to be the lead in developing housing in the city.”
Luke McGrath, who works as Political Assistant to Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O'Laoghaire, agreed that housing has to be the number one priority.
He said: “We need a major ramping up in the delivery of affordable homes to buy and rent in Cork city. I see it every day - young people and families desperately seeking to put an affordable, secure roof over their heads. Despite doing all the right things, they remain locked out of such a basic need. This is very wrong, and things have to change.”