SOME FIANNA FáIL councillors are
worried about a "wipeout" and "political meltdown" in June's local elections.
Speaking to councillors from across the country, the Sunday Tribune has found that many of them believe they are destined to become lambs to the slaughter of a
disgruntled electorate on 5 June.
Arthur McDonald, vice-chairman of the party's National Councillors' Forum, said: "The reality is that councillors are shocked and worried about the recent opinion poll results. They feel the general public will have a backlash against them in June. There are 280 Fianna Fáil councillors out there working hard in their communities… then we get blamed for the nation's woes."
Jim Bourke from Westmeath said: "I am very concerned… I think that the Taoiseach and senior ministers should be explaining how bad things are and what plans they have to help us get out of the economic downturn."
John Gallahue, the current chairman of Limerick County Council, is retiring from politics before the local elections but he fears the worst for his party colleagues.
"I think Fianna Fáil will be wiped out in the local elections. We have the ardfheis but that is just a 'hail fellow well met' exercise. It amounts to a budding political charm school."
In the last local elections in 2004, Fianna Fáil lost 80 seats as the electorate gave Bertie Ahern's government a mid-term thumping.
Gallahue said: "We are facing a much worse result than last time. People are angry and vicious out there. They are going to exact revenge. They will equally exact revenge in the general election whenever that is."
News that FF support plummeted to just 25% in last week's Irish Independent/Millward Brown IMS poll was a chilling reminder to its councillors that they are "sailing against the wind" ahead of 5 June. One councillor, who did not wish to be named, said: "I cannot speak out or I will be lacerated for it, but I am very downbeat and I think Fianna Fáil councilors are facing political meltdown in June. We could lose half of our council seats."
But not all councilors are as skeptical about the elections. Joe Carroll from Skibereen said: "Things are bad but even if the Pope was in charge of the country, he would be still be polling badly. I never take notice of polls. Brian Cowen is the best leader we have.
In Cavan, John Paul Feeley said: "It is very easy to be chirping from opposition benches on the local council but it is a whole lot different if you are behind a minister's desk or the cabinet table. We just have to do a better job at communicating what we are doing and why we are doing it."