Sinn Féin's Stephen Cunningham won’t stand in local elections

Sinn Féin's Stephen Cunningham won’t stand in local elections

Councillor Stephen Cunningham who has confirmed he will not run in next local elections.

ANOTHER councillor is retiring from City Hall politics - Sinn Féin’s Stephen Cunningham will not be standing in the local elections next May.

He is the seventh sitting city councillor to step back from politics in recent weeks.

Mr Cunningham, a city councillor in the Cork North-East ward, is to be replaced on the ticket by sitting Cork North-West councillor Mick Nugent, along with newcomer Mandy O'Leary-Hegarty.

Making the announcement Mr Cunningham thanked the voters of the North East ward.

"It has been the greatest privilege to represent the North-East ward. As a Sinn Féin representative, I have done my utmost to provide a voice to those who most need it and represent causes in Mayfield and further afield with pride," he said.

"In the context of an expanded city boundary, the next Council term will be filled with challenges and opportunities for my party, the council executive and the city as a whole. While I won't be directly involved in shaping this conversation, I will continue to play an active role in fulfilling my mandate until the final day of my term."

Mr Nugent's move will make room for his Cork North-West colleague Cllr Ken Collins, and Cork North-Central councillor Thomas Gould, whose ward is being abolished and absorbed into the other two northside areas.

Mandy O’Leary-Hegarty who will run for Sinn Féin in the local elections next May.
Mandy O’Leary-Hegarty who will run for Sinn Féin in the local elections next May.

The party is also seeking a candidate from the Blarney/Tower area to complete the ticket in the expanded Cork North-West ward.

The moves will be confirmed at two selection conventions in the coming days: Cork North-East in the Glen Resource Centre on Wednesday, and Cork North-West in the Farranree Community Centre on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the party has selected sitting city councillor Fiona Kerins, and county councillor Eoghan Jeffers to contest the Cork South-Central Ward.

Ms Kerins has served in the ward since 2007, while Mr Jeffers was co-opted onto Cork County Council after Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire was elected to the Dáil in 2016.

With the 2014 Ballincollig-Carrigaline local electoral area being split up, Mr Jeffers is following his home area of Grange into the City Council.

Mr Nugent paid tribute to Mr Cunningham, who is leaving electoral politics after just five years, having been elected in the 2014 elections aged just 21.

Cork North Central Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien paid tribute to Mr Cunningham and said that he looked forward to his contributions to the party in the years ahead.

"In my opinion, he was an excellent councillor. He was young and he was energetic, but he has made his decision.

"He's going to continue to play an important role in the party. He will play a critical role in the local elections, and I look forward to working with him at the next general election.

"He remains as dedicated today as he did five years ago," he said.

Cork South Central ward Sinn Féin candidates, Cllr Eoghan Jeffers (left) and Fiona Kerins (right) pictured with Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (centre).
Cork South Central ward Sinn Féin candidates, Cllr Eoghan Jeffers (left) and Fiona Kerins (right) pictured with Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (centre).

Mr Nugent shared similar praise.

"I have worked alongside Stephen for a number of years and he can be proud of the work he has done.

"He will continue to part of the Sinn Féin team and he has a lot to offer going forward," he said.

The move to Cork North-East is a move home for Mr Nugent.

He is originally from Ballyvolane and previously ran for Sinn Féin in the old North East ward in 1999 but failed to secure a seat.

Ms O'Leary-Hegarty, daughter of former Lord Mayor Chris O'Leary, will balance out the ticket geographically, focusing on her hometown, Glanmire, which is moving into the ward after a change to the city boundary.

Ahead of Wednesday evening's selection convention for Sinn Féin in the north east ward, which is expected to be uncontested, Cunningham pledged his support to both candidates:

"I'm delighted to throw my full support behind both Cllr Mick Nugent and Mandy O'Leary-Hegarthy in their attempts to secure two seats in the ward for Sinn Féin. While it is now time for me to explore other opportunities in my personal life, I will work night and day to ensure two fine Sinn Féin candidates are elected to represent our city."

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