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General Election 2011

New kid on the block

TAKING 8,572 votes in the first count, Michael McNamara became the first Labour party TD to be elected in Clare since 1992, ending a run of three barren general elections.Before last Friday’s ballot, many gave him a chance of taking the final seat but against the odds, the Scariff man took the second one, something even he didn’t see coming. “Up to today I wouldn’t have expected to come second. I predicted coming third in The Clare Champion and that was cheeky,” he acknowledged in the early hours of Sunday morning, shortly after reaching the quota.However, he did say he had got good feedback on the campaign trail and felt he was in with a shout of a seat. “To be honest, we were getting a very good reception. We had a huge team out there and I’m very grateful to everyone who came out in fairly horrible weather conditions and campaigned. I’m also very grateful to everyone who answered …

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Breen tops the poll

LAST Friday more people voted for Pat Breen than had ever voted for any Fine Gael candidate in a general election in Clare.It was a huge result for the West Clare man, who topped the poll, taking 9,855 first preferences, 1,283 ahead of his nearest challenger Michael McNamara. His vote increased by just over 2,800 on the 2007 election.On Saturday evening Mr Breen said he was thrilled with how he polled. “When I heard the final tally earlier this afternoon tears came to my eyes. To me it’s a lifetime achievement to be at the top. This is my third election, in my first election I got 4,400 votes, in my second election I got 7,000 votes and now tonight I have 9,800 votes. That shows that the work on the ground and the dedication to the job has paid off as I’ve gone from strength to strength. I’m so delighted, I want to thank the people of Clare for …

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Carey wins a second term in the dáil

THE day of the 2007 General Election count was a long and nervy one for Joe Carey, but from early last Saturday it was clear that he would have another stint in Dáil Éireann.When he arrived at the count centre with his wife, Grace, he was delighted with his own showing. “I’ve managed to increase my vote by a third, I topped the poll in the Ennis area with three and a half thousand votes. It was a huge performance, all credit to my team, to my director of elections, Martin Lynch, my friends and supporters around the county, I’m indebted to them.”He was also delighted with the party’s performance, as it comfortably retained both its seats. “We ran a huge campaign right across the county. I had 50 to 60 people out supporting me and the Fine Gael team. We maximised our vote and we managed to achieve something in the region of 42 or 43%, an increase of …

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Dooley survives Fianna Fáil cull

THE possibility of going from poll topper to fighting for the last seat was not lost on Deputy Timmy Dooley on Saturday.In the 2002 General Election, Independent candidate James Breen headed the poll with 9,721 first preferences, yet lost his seat five years later. Deputy Dooley admitted to The Clare Champion after the 2007 count that it was sobering to watch the former Fianna Fáil councillor bow out having performed so impressively in the previous election.Fast-forward to last Saturday, when Deputy Dooley experienced another sobering lesson watching a number of his Fianna Fáil colleagues lose their Dáil seats throughout the country.In the wake of the national collapse for Fianna Fáil, Deputy Dooley was happy to survive, even if it meant sweating it out for the final seat, which he finally secured in the early hours without reaching the quota.His election experience was a remarkable turnaround, having scored such a runaway success in 2007 by topping the poll with 10,791 first …

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Questions raised over FG’s strategy

BY the standards of all previous general elections since the party’s foundation, Fine Gael’s performance in Clare was outstanding.It won 42.3% of the vote, more than at any of the previous ballots. It also managed to retain its two seats with a degree of ease, while poll topper Pat Breen won more first preferences than any previous Fine Gael general election candidate in Clare.All things considered there was an awful lot for the party to be happy about but after it became apparent that Tony Mulcahy would not be joining Joe Carey and Pat Breen in the Dáil, there was some criticism of the party’s three-candidate strategy.Some felt that if four candidates had been on the ticket, as was the case in the 2007 general election, the party could have really rattled a third seat. Others felt that while a fourth candidate might have helped the vote, there wasn’t a real chance of taking a third.North Clare county councillor Martin …

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‘Dev’s county’ tag now gone

THERE seemed to be something missing at the count on Saturday last. No great buzz about the place during the day and the place seemed subdued. All’s changed, changed utterly. Things have definitely changed for Fianna Fáil. The soldiers of the rearguard were fighting rearguard action. Even still, the Sunday Business Post refers to us this week as Dev’s county. If anything good comes out of the Fianna Fáil debacle, it might be the end of that.Where were they coming from, or more importantly where have they been for the past 15 years? Here is a party who see it as their right to govern but they set out, maybe not to lose an election but definitely not to win. If people woke up last Friday morning to find that everything had changed and they wanted to vote Fianna Fáil back into office – they couldn’t. There were not enough candidates. RTÉ did a special programme on the lack of …

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How it all added up

WHEN Clare constituency returning officer Pat Wallace and his staff went through the preliminary steps we described last week, they had 58,495 ballot papers; 579 of these were invalid for different reasons, which left a valid poll of 57,916. We needed four seats so this was divided by five to give 11,583 and one was added on to give the quota of 11,584. When the first count was finished, each and every candidate had his or her own bundle of votes and nobody had reached the quota. The candidate with the smallest bundle of votes was eliminated and his votes distributed to whoever was marked as number 2 on the papers, for example, 10 of them had Patrick Brassil 1 and Pat Breen 2, so Pat Breen got 10 transfers. Everybody now had two bundles – their original number 1s and the votes they got from Brassil. Nine ballot papers only had Brassil number 1 and no number 2. These …

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Meaney and The Greens poll-axed

JUST as their government partners took a pummelling at the polls, the Green Party’s dramatic collapse into political oblivion is the price they have paid, as one prominent member suggested, “for dealing with the devil”. The party was completely wiped out. With their six sitting TDs all losing their seats, it leaves the party without representation in the 31st Dáil. That poor showing was mirrored in Clare where Brian Meaney turned in his worst first performance in three general election campaigns.In a strange twist of fate Meaney, who saw his vote drop by over 50% from 2,903 in 2002 to 1,154, is now one of their more senior elected political figures in the country. Yet, he admits he was braced for the backlash from the Clare electorate.“One of the reasons I ran was that I knew the party was facing obliteration. No doubt, we suffered greatly for being in government with Fianna Fáil. But I wasn’t prepared to walk away. …

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