IN THE local equine parlance the white flag has been raised, and they’re off, in the quinennial race for the 40 seats on Kildare County Council in the local elections to be held on 24 May, after nominations closed at noon on Saturday (4 May).
In case the lamppost litter hadn’t caught your attention just yet, there will be a total of 90 candidates contesting these elections across the five municipal districts, 16 of whom are women – that’s just under 18 per cent.
There are some minor adjustments after last year’s boundary commission rejig, which sees the Newbridge/Kildare Municipal District gain two seats (from nine to 11) off Naas (from nine to seven).
Athy MD is also losing one seat (from six to five), while Maynooth/Clane picks up this gain (from nine to 10).
Celbridge/Leixlip stays the same with seven seats.
For the 222,504 citizens of Kildare, its population per member is a little above the national average (c.4,500), ranging between 5,140 in Kildare town to 5,946 in Maynooth.
This reflects the pressures experienced by the county which has seen its population grow by almost six per cent since the last election.
In all, 10 sitting councillors have chosen to call it a day, meaning a full quarter of the chamber will be newbies when it sits again on June 24.
As it pcurrently stands the representation of Kildare County Council is a reasonable mirror to the country, with 11 Fianna Fáil and nine Fine Gael in some thrall to the 12 independents.
Five Labour and three Sinn Féin councillors make up the remainder of the Chamber for the next 17 days.
As regards the most favourable returnable odds, candidates in the Athy district have the best shot with just 10 candidates chasing five seats, whereas those in the Celbridge/Leixlip conurbation have just a one in three chance, with 21 candidates chasing just seven seats.
Respectively, from these two wards, Cllrs Martin Miley Jnr (FF) and Kevin Byrne (Lab) are calling it a day on their political careers for now.
In Naas the odds of landing a seat are a little short of 50-50 with 15 candidates fighting for the seven seats.
The most notable step-down in the county is from the Naas district with Cllr Billy Hillis (FG) calling it a day after 34 years service across four different municipal districts.
He will be joined in retirement by Deborah Callaghan (FF) while Robert Power throws his hat in the Newbridge electoral area this time round..
In Clane/Maynooth 21 aspirants chase 10 seats, with Cllr John McGinley (Lab) the only one choosing not to seek re-election.
In the largest of the municipal districts Kildare/Newbridge – with a population bigger than three individual counties – 23 candidates will vy for 11 seats, six in Newbridge and five in Kildare.
This district will also have the largest number of new councillors in June as four of the incumbent nine – Joanne Pender (Ind), Sean Power (FF), Paddy Kennedy (Ind), Mark Lynch (SF) – are hanging up their political hats this time round.
The ballot boxes will be busy and multi-coloured as we also go to the hustings for EU elections, and have a referendum amendment on divorce thrown in.
For the European elections Kildare voters will take part in the biggest constituency in Irish electoral history, and will select four MEPs alongside voters in 12 counties across three of the provinces.
The referendum if passed will allow Irish law recognize foreign divorces, and limit the separation period required for a divorce from four years to two.