There was joy and disappointment among candidates at the local elections as the results came in over the weekend. The Green Party surge across the country also made itself known in Waterford as they elected two Councillors for the first time ever in the city and county.
There was also a resurgence for the Labour Party although their rise was not so surprising given their strong traditional foothold in Waterford and Dungarvan.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin was happy to report an upsurge in the Labour vote across the constituency and the country, which would suggest confidence among supporters in his leadership.
The independents still have a large representation on the Council featuring newly elected personnel. Matt Shanahan’s poll topping success in City East saw just how important the health issue remains among a wide section of the community. Councillor Cha O’Neill will be naturally disappointed to have lost his seat in City South, with the hard-working Donal Barry rewarded for years of sterling work in the voluntary sector.
Fianna Fail will be happy to have retain their city seats, particularly general election candidate Eddie Mulligan while Fine Gael will have been disappointed to have lost the Caret seat in the Barony. On a positive note both Lola O Sullivan and John Cummins were returned as were county candidates, a point forcibly made on radio by Paudie Coffey when speaking from the WIT Count Centre on Sunday.Sinn Féin retained their six seats albeit with one personnel change but will be pleased to have held their own given the party’s nationwide drop in support. Sunday turned out to be a very long day, which must have exhausted candidates, along with their families and supporters.
The 2019 local election was less controversial than the 2014 edition which was dominated by the water charges issues. It remains to be seen if there will be another pact given that he two big parties would dominate such a grouping. Will they court Labour, the Greens or Independents? Sinn Féin are suggesting the de Hondt principle to rotate the Metropolitan Mayoralty once more.Will the committees also be shared out with some level of fairness? The Independents felt somewhat left out in the last council we noted and would like some better equality but that’s the nature of politics.
Will Matt Shanahan as a poll topper get the opportunity to serve as Metropolitan Mayor and keep up the pressure on the Cardiac Care issue? He certainly has a strong case and we await developments with interest. As we go to press, Grace Sullivan was in with a shot of becoming the first Waterford MEP if the transfers go her way in Ireland South.The Green agenda will be bigger in the new European Parliament as they have strong representation from many countries and will have a big influence as both the European People’s Party and Social Democrats lost seats. The right may have earned a stronger vote, but they will still be outweighed by more moderate parties in the new parliament. As for the UK? Its fate remains firmly in the ether.