Conor Dowling-Linehan from Iona Park, Athlone who will contest next year’s local elections for Sinn Fein in the Athlone area.

Athlone man selected as Sinn Féin candidate

It has emerged that an Athlone man who has been selected by Sinn Féin as their candidate for the 2024 local elections could be joined by a second candidate on the party ticket in the coming weeks.

NUIG graduate in Political Science, Sociology and History, 27-year-old Conor Dowling-Linehan from Iona Park told the Westmeath Independent this week that the party is “considering running two candidates.” A second candidate, if selected, will probably come from the west side of Athlone and, due to the need to satisfy gender quotas, the party would hope to select a female candidate, he said.

Conor is a daily commuter to his job as a Clerical Officer at the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore and says he is “well aware” of the many issues facing the electorate in his native Athlone through his work in the local community as a member of Sinn Féin over a number of years.

“I joined Sinn Féin when I was studying in NUIG as they had a very vibrant organisation on the campus,” he says, “and I have been working closely with the party ever since in highlighting the issues which affect the day to day lives of ordinary people.”

Having been nominated to serve on the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Féin for three years in a row, Conor Dowling-Linehan said he always had the ambition to put his name in the ring for selection as a local election candidate serving the people of Athlone, and he has vowed to secure “a better deal for Athlone” if he is elected to Westmeath County Council in the local elections next year.

“Growing up in Athlone and working in the local community over the past number of years with Sinn Féin has made me very aware of the many issues facing the local community, such as the lack of affordable housing, anti-social behavioural issues and the drug problem,” he says.

While he accepts that some of the issues facing the town are “inter-generational” he feels that the recent upsurge in anti-social behaviour stems from the lack of real opportunity for young people.

A past-pupil of the Dean Kelly primary school and the former St Aloysius College, Conor Dowling-Linehan credits his passion for Athlone and his own ideals to his family and to his teachers and the volunteers and coaches he met at St. Coman's, Connaught Celtic and Buccaneers football and rugby clubs.

He says he is the face of “a hardworking Sinn Fein team locally” and is asking the local electorate to place their trust in him at the 2024 local elections.

When asked to assess his chances of winning a seat on Westmeath County Council he says he would prefer to focus on “doing the best I can” rather than engaging in too much analysis. “I will give it my best chance and continue working as hard as I can for the local community on the ground and that is my only focus for now,” he says.