From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People 16 June 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
19, Jun 2004 - 12:40

Mee rises to the roll as Mayo kingmaker

Lazarus arose from the dead but Johnny Mee rose from his bed in the early hours of Sunday morning to record one of the most famous electoral victories in the history of politics in Mayo. Mee’s career as a County Councillor appeared to be dead and buried earlier on Saturday when he trailed former Labour Party colleague, Michael Kilcoyne, by more than 100 votes. But the veteran Castlebar politician staged a remarkable comeback to take the final seat in the Castlebar Electoral Area by a few dozen votes. Ironically, the Labour Party member now holds the balance of power on Mayo County Council and may be elected Chairman when the new Council meets later this month. Fine Gael holds 15 seats on the Council and it only needs the support of one other member to gain an overall majority.

All the papers have a LOT of politics this week. The counts provide fantastic fodder for journalists – the pieces write themselves. Johnny Mee going home to bed defeated and then being woken to return to the count centre to claim his seat is just one of the many count stories that will be ‘recounted’ for years to come especially as this is probably the last of the tallied counts.

Beverley factor leaves FF in disarray in Castlebar

Fine Gael kept the flag flying in their party leader’s hometown by securing three out of a possible six seats in the Castlebar region. Paddy McGuinness (FG), Henry Kenny (FG) and Sean Burke (FF) were elected after the fourth count. Cyril Burke (FG) was next in line to claim a seat, followed by Al McDonnell (FF). An earlier-disappointed Johnny Mee (Labour) who had retired for the night, was awoken from his slumber at 3am on Saturday morning and informed that he was still in the running. At 3.15am, Mee was awarded the final seat. While FG leader Enda Kenny was in high spirits with the party results across the country, he expressed his delight particularly with the results in his hometown of Castlebar. "We’re very pleased with the Castlebar result. It’s the first time since 1979 that Fine Gael have had three seats in the Castlebar district and that’s a significant achievement," he said.

Fianna Fail was definitely in disarray in Castlebar and the Western may have put their finger on a large part of the problem. While nationally Fianna Fail disarrayed quite well without the Bev factor, here in Castlebar it merely aggravated the overall disenchantment with the incumbent government. The two camps – or is it now three camps? – within Castlebar Fianna Fail pulled against each other and their vote plummeted. FG on the other hand balanced their vote with amazing precision across the Castlebar Electoral Area with only a handful of votes separating Burke, Kenny and McGuinness.

‘Ming’ Flanagan is talk of the county in Roscommon

True to form, the Roscommon electorate delivered their fair share of shocks at the weekend. One of the most sensational results of all took place in the Castlerea 3-seater where the colourful Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan came in from the margins to top the poll and shock the establishment in Roscommon. Two of the three outgoing councillors lost their seats in Castlerea. Danny Burke (Ind), who headed the poll five years ago, fell victim to the ‘Ming’ tide and his votes was halved in the process.

Anyone who remembers Ming the Merciless running on a legalise cannabis platform will have been surprised to see him taking a seat in Roscommon of all places. Castlerea is not exactly your hotbed of drug taking (well apart from the residents who are low security guests of the nation perhaps). But apparently Ming is from a prominent GAA family in Roscommon and has turned to more conventional politics. He did the hard work canvassing door to door and presumably while the health benefits of cannabis for MS patients might have come up occasionally I suspect that more routine health topics, broken government promises, etc., were the main topic of conversation on Roscommon doorsteps during Ming’s merciless canvass. Ah! God be with the days when they serialised the Flash Gordon follier-uppers on Saturday mornings!

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