June D-Day to kick-start local election race

Sitting councillors and prospective candidates in next year’s local elections will know within three weeks what changes, if any, are to be made to the electoral areas in County Roscommon.   The Roscommon People can this week confirm that the Boundary Commission is due to publish its determination in relation to the make-up of electoral areas on June 20th next.   It is understood that Roscommon’s sitting councillors are largely resigned to there being some changes in the electoral areas here. While the overall number of councillors (26 countywide) will remain the same it is thought that due to population changes revealed in the last census boundary changes are inevitable.   There is a proposal to abolish all three-seater constituencies in the country, which in the context of County Roscommon would mean that Castlerea would cease to exist as a three-seater. There is a strong possibility that Castlerea (three seats presently) and Ballaghaderreen (four seats presently) electoral areas will instead merge into a new (combined) six-seater. Part of the Ballaghaderreen electoral area could conceivably be included with Boyle, with Boyle remaining as a five-seater. The expectation is that the Boyle/Ballaghaderreen/Castlerea areas (currently 12 councillors combined) will lose one seat, being reduced to 11.   Due to the increase in the population of the Athlone (South Roscommon) region that electoral area may be increased to include six Council seats. In that scenario part of Mid-Roscommon would be included with South Roscommon. Lecarrow is the area most likely to be affected, although Four Road could come under consideration. The possibility of Mid-Roscommon being increased to six seats, with part of South Roscommon being included in that electoral area, has not been discounted by political observers locally.   When all is revealed in June, the serious business of candidate selection will begin in earnest. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will press ahead with Selection Convention plans. Much attention will focus on the expected intense battle in Mid-Roscommon, where the intentions of businessman P. Burke (Fianna Fail candidate last time) are not yet known. It is widely believed that farm leader Laurence Fallon (Fine Gael) will throw his hat into the ring but that too remains unconfirmed.