3 June 2004 Edition

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Surprises in store in the South

Kerry Councillor Toireasa Ferris

Kerry Councillor Toireasa Ferris

Munster Cúige PRO Frank O'Neill sums it up when he says: "In the last local election we ended up with 58 councillors throughout the 26 Counties. In this area alone we are running 57 candidates for 67 seats, and the majority of our candidates are in with an excellent chance."

Success is almost guaranteed for most of the local election candidates in David Cullinane's South EU constituency on 11 June, although O'Neill is reluctant to say so for fear of "jinxing" them.

"Even candidates in areas that we didn't expect to do so well are now looking promising," according to O'Neill. "And then there are places where we are expecting amazing breakthroughs. In Waterford, for example, there hasn't been a Sinn Féin candidate elected since Cathal Brugha. Now we're expecting to take seats in both the city and county councils. David Cullinane, Joe Kelly and Frank Walsh all stand to take city seats, and Brendan Mansfield has a huge vote in the county."

O'Neill told us that a breakthrough is expected in North Tipperary, where Ard Chomhairle member Ella O'Dwyer is standing.

"In Kerry as well, we think that Martin Ferris' vote will transfer into eight council seats, which will be phenomenal," he said. "Toireasa Ferris will take her seat there for sure. But Cork is where we expect massive success. We're running for 27 seats, and nine women are contesting ten of them. Every one of those candidates is getting good returns. We also have a huge number of young people running for us here, including Roisín Ó Sullivan, who is 19 and the youngest candidate in the country."

O'Neill said that the main issues in the region revolve around health and housing, but the environment in causing concern in Cork.

"They're trying to build a national incinerator in Cork Harbour, and the whole county is against it," he said. "There is so much anger down here directed at the government."

Munster Cúige organiser Ken O'Connell also told us about the health issue.

"Obviously, for the likes of Séamus Morris in Nenagh Town Council, the Hanly Report is a massive bone of contention," O'Connell said. "Nenagh Hospital would be arguing for funds and investment, not closure." Radiotherapy services in the Southeast is another huge issue.

"These are the issues our candidates are dealing with," he said. "But we're expecting to double, even treble, our number of councillors in Munster."

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