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Election Countdown: Who’s in and who’s out of the sitting County Councillors ahead of 2019 Local Elections

Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie

The people of Laois and Ireland will be asked to vote in the Local Elections next year.

There’s just over six months to go to the 2019 Local Elections and with the countdown now on, we contacted all 19 Laois County Councillors to see if they intend to seek re-election.

Long-serving Fine Gael councillor John Moran announced that he won’t be contesting,  but, as of now, it is the intention of the remaining 18 to put their names on the ballot sheet again.

Of course, there is a caveat in that the members representing parties will have to be selected at their relevant convention – or by party headquarters, depending on what approach is taken.

The 2019 elections will be held in all local government areas of the Republic of Ireland on Friday, May 24 2019, on the same day as the 2019 European Parliament election.

Laois underwent a significant change for the 2014 Local Elections, when five areas changed to three and the overall number of seats was reduced from 25 to 19.

This time there is only one small change – one that will see the townsland of Clash – between Mountrath and Abbeyleix – move from the Portlaoise district to Borris-in-Ossory-Mountmellick.

The areas in question are Boley Upper, Shanahoe, Cappanacloghy, Killeany, Scotchrath and Springmount. These votes will be lost to the likes of John Joe Fennelly and Mary Sweeney in the Portlaoise District and likely to benefit James Kelly, John King and John King in Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick.

In any case, with just over six months to go to election day, we have profiled the sitting councillors that will go to the polls.


Paddy Bracken (Fianna Fail)

Paddy Bracken has been a member of Laois County Council since October 2003 when he was co-opted in place of John Moloney when TDs were no longer allowed to also sit on the council. He had been a member of Mountmellick Town Council at the time and was first elected to that in 1987.

He has since been re-elected to the Council in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

2019: Intends to run again

David Goodwin (Fine Gael)

David Goodwin is a long-serving member of Laois County Council, first elected in 1974 to the old Tinnahinch area. He was subsequently re-elected in 1979 and 1985 and although he lost his seat in 1991, he returned successfully in 1999 when the area changed to Mountmellick and he retained his seat in 2004, 2009 and 2014, when he took the last of the six seats in the new Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick District.

Owns the EV Condell Massey Ferguson dealership in Portlaoise.

2019: Intends to run again

James Kelly (Independent)

Independent councillor James Kelly received the second highest number of first-preference votes in the Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick District in the 2014 election, when he was elected for the first time. His uncle, also James, contested a number of General Elections in the 60s and 70s, as a Labour candidate.

2019: Running Again

John King (Fine Gael)

From Rathdowney, John King is the current Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council. He was first elected in 2009, succeeding William Mansfield. He first ran as an independent candidate in 1999.

The Rathdowney man topped the poll with 1,189 first-preference votes to retain his seat in 2014.

2019: Intends to run again

Seamus McDonald 

From Rosenallis, Seamús McDonald has been a member of Laois County Council since 1985 and was Chairperson in 1996-1997. He has been elected at six different elections.

Seamús is a member of the Barrow Drainage Board as well as Chair of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee. He is also Chair of both Rosenallis FAS and Rosenalis Community Centre Committee.

2019: Intends to run again

Brendan Phelan 

Brendan Phelan was first elected in 2004 as a Fianna Fáil candidate and retained his seat in 2009.

However, after not being chosen by the party’s selection convention ahead of the 2014 election, he went forward as an Independent and won a seat for a third term. His late brother Kieran was a Fianna Fail senator while another brother, Laurence, ran for Fianna Fail in the Luggacurren area in 2009.

2019: Running again


Willie Aird (Fine Gael)

Willie Aird has served as a local councillor since 1979 when he was elected at the age of 18 to Portlaoise Town Council. He was unsuccessful in his Council bid in ’79 but won a seat in 1985 and has been there ever since.

A huge vote getter in the Portlaoise area, topping the poll in the last three elections, he has served as both mayor of Portlaoise Town Council and Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council.

2019: Intends to run again

Caroline Dwane-Stanley (Sinn Fein)

Caroline Dwane-Stanley was co-opted onto the Laois County Council in 2011 after her husband Brian was elected as a TD.

The Portlaoise councillor held on to her seat and was elected in on the first count with 1,348 first preference votes in the 2014 Local Elections.

2019: Intends to run again

John Joe Fennelly (Fianna Fail)

Abbeyleix native John Joe Fennelly is in business in Mountrath but the town of Abbeyleix and surrounding areas like Ballinakill and Ballyroan are in the Portlaoise district. He was first elected in 1999 and after topping the poll in the old Borris-in-Ossory area in 2004 and 2019, he received the second highest number of first preference votes for the Portlaoise District in 2014.

2019: Intends to run again

Catherine Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail)

Catherine Fitzgerald was first elected to Portlaoise area of Laois County Council in 1999 and has retained her seat ever since.

She was initially chosen to run in the 2016 General Election alongside Sean Fleming but she later opted out of that race.

Famously endured a marathon recount in 2009 when she battled it out with Fine Gael’s Paddy Buggy for the last seat in Portlaoise – with the count finally concluding six days after voting had taken place.

2019: Intends to run again

Pauline Madigan (Fianna Fail)

Pauline Madigan is Laois County Council’s newest member having been co-opted by Fianna Fail to fill the seat left vacant following the death of Jerry Lodge. That was a hotly-contested position and required her to see off seven other candidates.

A Limerick native but long-time resident in Portlaoise, she lectures in Media and Public Relation in IT Carlow. She recently went up against Sean Fleming to be a candidate in the next General Election and although defeated, she could yet be added to the ticket.

2019: Intends to run

Mary Sweeney (Fine Gael)

Mary Sweeney was Fine Gael’s first female local councillor in Laois when she was elected in 1999. She took the seat previously held by former Senator Charlie McDonald.

From Ballyroan, she recently retired from her role in Portlaoise library after 38 years of service.

2019: Intends to run again

Labour cllr Noel Tuohy backs use of cannabis for medicinal purposes Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie

Noel Tuohy (Labour)

Labour councillor and retired prison officer Noel Tuohy has been involved in the Prison Officers Association for over 30 years.

He has been actively involved in local campaign groups, most notably the Hospital Action group. He is also involved in local Portlaoise pantomime group. This is his first term as a councillor having bucked the national swing against Labour by winning a seat in 2014. Gained national prominence recently by calling for party leader Brendan Howlin to resign.

2019: Intends to run again



Ben Brennan (Independent)

Independent Ben Brennan was first voted in to the Luggacurren area in 2009 when himself and Padraig Fleming were the newcomers – and took the seats previously held by Fianna Fail duo Dick Miller and Michael Rice.

Strengthened his vote in the Graiguecullen-Portarlington District in 2014 and took the third of six seats after winning 1,112 first preferences.

2019: Running Again

Padraig Fleming (Fianna Fail)

Padraig Fleming was elected to Luggacurren Electoral Area for Laois County Council in June 2009 and was then re-elected in May 2014.

Brother of current TD Sean, Padraig held the role of the Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council in 2017.

2019: Intends to run again

Paschal McEvoy (Fianna Fail)

Paschal McEvoy was first elected to the County Council in 2014 when he took the last seat in the new Portarlington-Graiguecullen District. Also a member of the Laois County Board, he first ran for election in 2009.

2019: Intends to run again

John Moran (Fine Gael)

The only one of the 19 current councillors who has declared that they won’t be running in the next local election.

First elected in 1991 after being unsuccessful in 1985, John Moran has been a huge vote getter ever since and topped the poll in Luggacurren in 1999 and 2004 and teamed up with James Daly to bring in a huge vote in 2009. Was a General Election candidate in 2011 when he polled over 4,000 votes as Charlie Flanagan’s running mate.

2019: Is not running

Tom Mulhall (Fine Gael)

Emo man Tom Mulhall was first elected to Laois County Council in 2009 for the old Emo electoral area. In 2014 he retained his seat when was re-elected for the Graiguecullen-Portarlington area.

In 2016-17, he served as Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council.

2019: Intends to run again

Aidan Mullins (Sinn Fein)

Aidan Mullins was the first elected councillor to the Graiguecullen-Portarlington area at the 2014 election when he polled over 1500 first preferences and was elected after the first count.

He had previously just missed out in the old Emo Electoral Area in 2009.

2019: Intends to run again

SEE ALSO – Three Laois schools require extensive works before they can open again

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Siún Lennon joined LaoisToday in a full-time capacity after studying Journalism and New Media in the University of Limerick. She hails from Rosenallis and her interests vary from news, sports and politics.