By Peter O’Connell
KILRUSH town councillor Ian Lynch is to switch his political allegiance from Fine Gael and stand in the West Clare area as an Independent candidate in the May election. He will join the battle for votes in the West Clare capital with his town council party colleague Marian McMahon Jones, who was added to the Fine Gael ticket after the November convention.
Sitting county councillors Gabriel Keating and Oliver Garry were selected at the Fine Gael convention to represent the party in the expanded west Clare constituency.
Currently Kilrush is without a representative on Clare County Council for the first time in the local authority’s history.
Councillor Lynch was elected to Kilrush Town Council, on the first count, in 2009 and says that he regrets not running for the county council five years ago.
“Looking back this may have been a mistake because since the local elections in 2009 Kilrush town and the greater hinterland have been without representation at Clare County Council level. There is no doubt that this has been to the detriment of our town,” Councillor Lynch believes.
He is adamant that Kilrush needs a voice on Clare County Council, particularly with Kilrush Town Council to be abolished in May.
“The voice of the people of Kilrush and surrounds is not being heard. This is evident in decisions where things like road signs placed by the NRA direct people away from our town, in a time when footfall is badly needed. With the abolition of Kilrush Town Council imminent our town will be once again, without a strong and practicable voice on Clare County Council, unless we are represented there,” he added.
Having served as town mayor since his election to Kilrush Town Council Councillor Lynch feels that he has worked hard for the town.
“During my time as mayor, I ensured the long-awaited completion of Moore Street resurfacing, CIE International Tours stopping in Kilrush following my visit to the United States and during my term as mayor Kilrush was successful in the bid to host the national famine commemoration, following my motion on the idea,” he said.
Councillor Lynch acknowledged that voters in the enlarged constituency will need convincing that a candidate, from the opposite end of the geographical area, can represent their concerns.
“While it may be hard for residents in north Clare to think that a councillor based in West Clare could be of any assistance, for the last five years I have served on the Board of Management of Ennistymon Vocational School. I am well aware of the challenges that face North Clare and these challenges are the same challenges that face West Clare. Kilrush is the capital of west Clare just as Ennistymon is the capital of North Clare. However, these towns do not exist in isolation. Just as important are smaller urban towns, the rural townlands and villages that surround and feed into these towns. Moveen, Killard, Kilmihil, Miltown, Moy and Liscannor for example are part of the makeup of the larger towns and key to the success of the tourist and economy of these areas,” he maintains.
Councillor Lynch, who is in his 30s, is adamant he will ably represent the west and north Clare electorate if elected.
“Change is badly needed. People are sick of seeing the same old, same old. It’s time for new blood, new spirit, fight and new passion, someone that is not restricted by what they can say or fight for, someone that has the courage to stand up and be heard and has the capacity to get things done. This is what people want, this is what they deserve and it is what I can bring to Clare County Council,” Councillor Lynch predicted.
Despite being advised that he could run in the 2019 local elections, Councillor Lynch felt compelled to run in 2014.
“Yes, it has been said to me to wait, my time will come but this is not about Ian Lynch or my career in politics. This is about standing up for what I believe in and representing the people of west and north Clare at a time when both urban and rural parts of the county are bent on its knees, businesses closing, children emigrating, houses being repossessed and families on the bread line. Am I expected to sit back and watch all this? People need a real voice now, not in the next election,” he stated.