Clare County Councillor, Mary Howard has been officially declared as the third Fine Gael (FG) candidate to contest the forthcoming General Election in the county.
Last week, speculation was rife that Councillor Howard would be added by the Fine Gael National Executive Council to the party ticket in Clare at the weekend and has proved to be correct.
The former Ennis Town Councillor stated it is a “huge honour” to be asked and also to be considered capable of being part of the local FG team.
Despite her late entry into the race, she is looking forward to working with her running mates outgoing FG deputies Pat Breen and Joe Carey to maximise the party’s vote in Clare.
“I love my job and my county and I would really love to take it to the next level. I have a proven track record of a strong work ethic and I am a team player thus I would love for people to put your faith in me,” she said.
Speaking to the Clare Champion, Councillor Howard said she had a very “positive” reaction from the public on Sunday on her first day of canvassing.
In an ideal world, she acknowledged she would have loved to be added by the executive council four months ago, which would have given her a lot more time to conduct the old style door-to-door canvassing.
However, while Councillor Howard would have loved more time to canvass, she stressed she was determined to meet as many people as possible in the run up to polling day.
At the age of 11, she recalled her late father, Michael, a former Fine Gael Senator, told her the best way to secure votes at any election was to meet people face to face on the doors.
“People are aware there was a long day in adding the third FG candidate in Clare. I don’t know what caused this delay but I am not going to dwell on this now and I believe people will see the work I have been doing on Clare County Council for the last 18 months and on Ennis Town Council for the previous five years.
“I didn’t rest on my laurels at any stage and I believe this will stand to me,” she added.
She said people she canvassed, who were not surprised with her late entry, described it as “the worst kept secret in politics”.
Welcoming the addition of Councillor Howard to the FG election ticket in Clare, Deputy Carey looks forward to working with Cllr Howard and Deputy Pat
Breen to secure the return of two Fine Gael TD’s to Dáil Éireann.
Five candidates had initially announced their intentions to seek a place on the FG party ticket at the party’s selection convention in the West County Hotel, Ennis a few months ago.
Shortly after the convention got underway, chairman and MEP, Sean Kelly confirmed that Ger O’Halloran, who narrowly lost out on winning a seat on Clare County Council in the 2014 Local Elections, had withdrawn his name.
Having addressed delegates in a wide-ranging speech, Senator Tony Mulcahy withdrew from the contest and before voting took place it was confirmed Senator Martin Conway had also quit the race.
This left three candidates Deputies Carey and Breen and Councillor Howard to battle it out for just two places following a directive from Fine Gael party headquarters to select two candidates on the night.
The two outgoing deputies were selected on the FG party ticket following a vote of 330 Fine Gael delegates and it was also confirmed that a third candidate would be added at a later stage.
Councillor Howard, Senator Martin Conway and Senator Tony Mulcahy were the three candidates battling for a third place on the FG ticket.
Meanwhile, Senator Tony Mulcahy has confirmed his decision is to seek re-election to Seanad Eireann.
“While my preference would have been to contest the General Election on behalf of Fine Gael in Clare, I accept the party’s decision to add Councillor Howard to the ticket alongside Deputies Joe Carey and Pat Breen. I wish Mary the very best for the coming weeks.
“The forthcoming election in Clare will be unlike any other Fine Gael has contested in recent memory.
“Fine Gael face into a huge field of candidates, whose election manifestos and self-belief that they can be elected are no less truer than our own. It will be a battle that FG have to be prepared to fight and win as a party, and I am committed to playing an important role in realising this objective
“Fine Gael has never been better placed to continue its work of leading this country as a party of the people. FG’s record of achievement in Government during the past four years speaks for itself. How the party, both here in this constituency and throughout the country, prepares for the forthcoming election will not only dictate our capacity to remain as the largest party nationally but also our ability to continue to provide true leadership for the citizens of Ireland,” he said.
Senator Mulcahy thanked his family, friends and supporters for their continued support over the last 22 years.
Following the General Election, he confirmed he would refocus his energy on retaining his Senate seat and looks forward to continuing to represent Clare at national level.
Efforts to contact Senator Martin Conway about his political intentions proved unsuccessful. Senator Conway has previously told the Clare Champion it would be “political stupidity” for FG not to include him on the party ticket for the forthcoming Dáil race.