Local elections in south Donegal set to be among most hotly contested in the country

With its record number of candidates, the local elections in south Donegal are among the most hotly contested in the country.

In the fifth of our special election focus reports, we look at an area in which 19 hopefuls are fighting for six seats.

Five of the six outgoing councillors in the Donegal Municipal District are seeking reelection; the councillor not seeking to return is Fine Gael’s Barry O Neill, from Ballyshannon.

The others hoping to keep their seats are Independents Tom Conaghan, Donegal Town; Niamh Kennedy, Killybegs; and the recently coopted Seamus Maguire, from Letterbarrow.

The other outgoing councillors seeking reelection are Fianna Fail’s Micheal Naughton from Laghey and Sinn Fein’s Noel Jordan from Mountcharles.

But those six sitting councillors are up against 13 others seeking seats, including six Independents.

Those six are Justin Coughlin, Diarmaid Doherty, former Ballydshannon town councillor Billy Grimes, Donegal Town Mayor Pauric Kennedy, Valerie McNulty and Sean O Beirne.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail each have three candidates running who are not councillors; for Fine Gael there is former Fine Gael councillor John J Boyle, John McNulty and Barry Sweeney while Fianna Fail is also putting forward former councillor Philip McGlynn, with newcomers Eimear McGuinness and Roger Meehan.

Cyril Brennan is the Solidarity/People Before Profit candidate while Sinn Fein’s Michael McMahon will be hoping to join his party colleague Noel Jordan on the new council.

All will be revealed on Saturday, with the count for the Donegal Municipal District taking place in the John Bosco Centre in Donegal Town.

But one thing’s already certain . . . there will be an unlucky 13 when it’s all over.