The people decided…an assessment of Election 2024

Solid Fianna Fáil performance


Fianna Fáil performed well in last Friday’s local elections in County Roscommon, taking 7,600 votes and five of the 18 seats on Roscommon County Council.

Party bosses will be satisfied to have lost just one of the six seats won in 2019, considering the absences of three A-lister surnames who have led the Fianna Fáil tickets locally for decades: Leyden, Roscommon Town (50 years); Murphy, Strokestown (40 years); and Cummins, Boyle (25 years).

Central to this success was its sweep of three seats in the Roscommon-Castlerea area, with dominant performances from Cllr Paschal Fitzmaurice and Cllr Marty McDermott. Larry Brennan and Cllr John Keogh (Athlone EA) were both elected comfortably, and in the Boyle EA newcomer Seán Moylan had a superb performance. New Athleague candidate James Murray came close also.

Fianna Fáil’s task now is to meld these positives into a coherent platform for the General Election. With the right strategy, they will be in a strong position to win a Dáil seat in Roscommon.


Fine Gael makes progress – and gains


Fine Gael made significant progress, doubling its Council seats from two to four – its best result in Roscommon in fifteen years – and polling 6,000 first preference votes in the process. A new beginning for the party after a difficult decade, and a positive footing ahead of the General Election.

FG will be very proud of Castlerea-based Gareth Scahill’s success. West Roscommon is the county’s most competitive political environment – stomping ground of Cllrs Paschal Fitzmaurice, Tony Waldron and Nigel Dineen. Yet Scahill created a new seat among those ‘big beasts’.

The icing on the FG cake is the stunning success of Domnick Connolly in the Athlone EA. Struggling after the first count, his lifetime of activism and an extensive canvass around the district yielded big transfers. A veteran of seven elections stretching back to 1991, politics has been a long and winding road for him. Out of politics altogether for five years and out of both the Athlone EA and Fine Gael for a decade, he showed courage to put his name forward and to win.

Fine Gael will be pleased too with the very strong vote for Drum-based Cllr John Naughten, the re-election of Cllr Liam Callaghan in the Boyle EA, and the competitive performances of Arigna’s Dympna Daly-Finn and Roscommon Town’s Robert McConn. And Creagh-based solicitor Alan Harney won a Galway County Council seat in Ballinasloe, winning on the first count with 1,784 No. 1s, despite being unable to vote for himself!


Incumbency + Independence = winning formula


It’s fair to say, in a county with two of three TDs sitting as Independents, that Roscommon voters like non-party candidates. Local tallies from the European Parliament elections showed Ciaran Mullooly and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan MEP dominating in every voting station in Roscommon.

Today it’s clear that poll-topper Flanagan will retain his seat. With votes still being counted, Mullooly is looking like a winner too. With 15 counties in the Midlands-North-West 5-seat constituency, having two Independent MEPs in the Roscommon region would be remarkable.

The Council results show that Roscommon voters like to vote Independent in the local elections also. Eight of the 18 newly-elected councillors are Independents, including new Ballaghaderreen-based Micheál Frain, who amassed 1,355 No 1s. And incumbency is a decisive advantage in Roscommon Council elections: 12 outgoing councillors sought re-election; all 12 were re-elected. Incumbency + Independence is the winning formula.

There were some big performances – Ballyforan’s Emer Kelly stormed to the top of the poll in the Athlone EA, slightly ahead of usual poll-topper Tony Ward and also Cllr Laurence Fallon, who polled strongly. Popular Independents Cllr Tony Waldron and Cllr Valerie Byrne won huge votes again, and veteran Cllr Tom Crosby dominated in his locality. Cllr Nigel Dineen scored across all of the sprawling Roscommon/Castlerea EA – remarkably topping the poll in two polling stations that are 50kms apart – Cloonfad and Ballymurray.


Leah Cull a bright star on a day of disappointment for Sinn Féin


Sinn Féin put forward six candidates – one less than FF and the same as FG – polling 4,000 votes and winning one seat.

SF’s Leah Cull (Boyle EA) shares first prize with Emer Kelly (Ind, Athlone EA) for outstanding performance in these Roscommon elections. Cllr Cull pulled a big vote, despite the wind against her party and a crowded 3-candidate SF ticket in the Boyle EA. She also had to contend with a strong local FG candidate in Arigna, Dympna Daly-Finn, who lost out on election by just three votes.

SF newcomer Sam Brooks performed well from his Taughmaconnell base, narrowly missing out on victory.

Sinn Féin will be disappointed with the results in Roscommon and throughout the country. But local elections are not predictors of General Elections: all parties and Independent candidates have a lot of work to do between now and the General Election.

The people will decide.