Manus Kelly, the three times Donegal International rally winner could make it four Donegal wins in a row – should he replace Cllr. James Pat McDaid on the Fianna Fail ticket in this year’s local elections.
Based in Glenswilly, Kelly was not available for comment earlier this week as he pondered the offer to take up the challenge of chasing votes on roads across the Letterkenny area where’s usually competing at over a hundred miles per hour.
McDaid shocked the FF hierarchy on last Thursday when he withdrew his nomination only ten days ahead of their convention this Sunday.
He said that new work schedules left him with no other choice in his job with a medical devices company.
Cllr. McDaid polled 1,314 in his first attempt in 2014 with 1,050 of those in the new Letterkenny area.
With Dessie Shiels also opting out there is already a surplus of 2,000 votes up for grabs.
While no new names can be added before Sunday’s convention, it is expected that other interested parties may be added later next week to the FF panel.
Meanwhile speculation that both FF and FG were engaged in a tussle to get a member of the healthcare profession has turned out to be a false dawn with the prospective candidate telling the Tir Chonaill Tribune, ‘Neither of these parties are for me at this time’.
It is understood the decision was influenced after a leak to a media source in Donegal despite a guarantee that the issue of privacy and confidentiality would have been fully respected to allow time for a number of issues to be resolved.
We understand that FG had also saw themselves in the frame to get this personality on their ticket.
Letterkenny business man Kevin Bradley of Highland Bakery is expected to join the race while Cathal McGlynn is already out on the campaign trail.
In Letterkenny there were seven locally based independent candidates five years ago. They polled a first preference of 3,771 votes within the new boundary. Around 3,500 of these are now floating in the political ether.
Letterkenny throws up an intriguing picture with the departure of the FF Cllr from the Glenswilly area. Adrian Glackin is expected to gain a substantial number of these votes while Michael McBride may now be tempted to declare for Letterkenny. However with his vote almost equally divided with Milford, it is a decision that McBride cannot take without much soul searching, especially since the final makeup of the field is not fully clarified.
And while Charlie McClafferty has been head hunted to run for Fine Gael, he has declined the offer. He polled a decent figure of 607 last time out and may again throw his hat into the campaign on an independent ticket.
Declan Meehan from Milford Town and resident at Ray Bridge is new, young and Donegal’s first openly gay Independent candidate and his participation will be interesting as the campaign develops. Mr. Meehan played a leading role in the marriage equality referendum and from that perspective he’s got experience and form on his side.
Sinn Fein will be delighted with their convention in the Beach Hotel in Downings on Sunday evening when Maria Doherty was officially selected as their Milford candidate.
The fact that Mary Lou McDonald was the star turn would have boosted the attendance and will have helped to revitalise the SF fortunes in this part of Donegal where Padraig MacLochlainn needs to poll strongly in the general election if he’s to be in the frame for a seat in the next Dail..
With Donal Cullen opting out of politics, the distribution of his vote of more than 800 will be watched with much interest.