The people of Laois and Ireland will be asked to vote in the Local Elections this Friday.
There are three electoral areas in Laois – Portlaoise, Graiguecullen-Portarlington and Borris-In-Ossory-Mountmellick.
With fewer than ever candidates putting themselves forward for local elections across the country this year, the Portlaoise Municipal District bucks the trend with 16 putting themselves forward this year.
Below, we profile each of them:
Portlaoise Municipal District (16)
Timothy Adejumo (Independent) – Timothy Adejumo is a bus driver and comes from Fieldbrook on the Dublin Road.
He was a late newcomer to the elections as he only declared right before the close of nominations. He has been endorsed by former Mayor of Portlaoise Roitimi Adebari.
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 Commission. He won a seat to Laois County Council 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.
Thomasina Connell (Fine Gael) – In the 2016 General Election, Fine Gael candidate Thomasina Connell polled over 4,000 first preference votes – an impressive haul for a young rookie candidate who came into that campaign with a low profile.
The young Portlaoise-based solicitor didn’t win a seat on that occasion but she made an impact as Charlie Flanagan’s running mate and has since declared that she’ll be running in the Portlaoise area where her office is and not Graiguecullen-Portarlington, where she grew up and went to school.
Tom Duffy (Independent) – Well-known local homelessness activist Tom Duffy is also running as an independent candidate.
The 56-year-old Belfast native, who has been living in Portlaoise for the last 25 years, is a representative for the ‘Feed our Homeless’ group and travels to Dublin twice a week to volunteer.
Dom Dunne (Renua) – Mr Dunne, who owns DMS Tyres in Clonminam, was among a number of candidates who sought to be co-opted by Fianna Fáil to the Laois County Council seat left vacant following the death of Jerry Lodge.
He later contested the party’s selection convention, which chose Cllrs John Joe Fennelly and Catherine Fitzgerald and Donal Kelly and later added Cllr Pauline Madigan. After missing out, he decided to run for Renua.
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.
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.
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.
John Gormley (Sinn Fein) – John Gormley lives in Ballytarsna, Abbeyleix and has four children. An active Sinn Féin member and lifelong campaigner, John gained valuable experience representing people as a shop steward for 15 years with the Unite Trade Union at the Department of Defence.
He has also been involved in housing and water charges campaigns. A committed member of Community Alert, John wants the expansion of this and Neighbourhood Watch, plus more community policing.
Naeem Iqbal (Independent) – Naeem Iqbal was born and raised in Pakistan before living in Sweden, England and now Ireland, since 2015.
Naeem is an accountant and is running as an Independent candidate in the upcoming local elections in the Portlaoise area.
Donal Kelly (Fianna Fail) – Donal Kelly owns Greenmill Foods, a food delivery company in the Laois and Kildare area, and also comes from Portlaoise.
He owned and ran a camera shop on Main Street in Portlaoise, Future Photo, until 2011. He was selected at Convention back in November.
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 lost out in the selection convention but was later added to the ticket by party HQ.
Noel O’Rourke (Renua) – Kilminchy native Noel is a community person who was a leading No campaigner in Laois in the recent Abortion Referendum.
He has also been heavily involved in the campaign to Save Portlaoise Hospital. He was among a number of candidates who sought to be co-opted by Fianna Fáil to the Laois County Council seat left vacant following the death of Jerry Lodge – but that was filled by Pauline Madigan. He then chose to run for Renua.
Judy Preston-Grace (Independent) – Judy Preston Grace lives on the Borris Road and is listed as a part-time recruitment officer.
She has worked in the community of Portlaoise for many years, mainly in the community and voluntary sectors.
Mary Sweeney nee Scully (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.
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.