OVER €150,000 was spent on campaigning by the 58 candidates who contested the Clare County Council election last May.
According to figures obtained by The Clare Champion, the 28 new county councillors spent a total of €87,434, while 30 candidates who did not secure election incurred expenses totalling €66,985, giving a total of €154,419.
The newly-elected Mayor of Ennis, Johnny Flynn, topped the list with a figure of €5,204, of which €3,811 came from his own resources and €1,392 was spent by Clare Fine Gael. It included €1,946 on adverstising, €1,464 on election posters and €1,417 on other election promotional literature.
He was closely followed by former Ennis Town Councillor, Frankie Neylon, who spent €5,200, which included €2,000 on advertising, €1,000 on publicity and other election material, €500 on transport and another €1,000 on his campaign workers.
In reaction to the figures, Sixmilebridge-based Richard Cahill, who spent in the region of €1,000 on his Euro South campaign, has called for a radical overhaul of election expenditure, which he believes is being wasted at the expense of local communities. Mr Cahill believes the bulk of the €150,000 would have been better spent on community projects, such as the day centres in Clarecastle and Kilmaley.
Following the example set by several European countries, he has proposed that a central location point should be chosen in a village to allow candidates put up one election poster, which would save hundreds of thousands of euro if replicated throughout the country.
“Providing one designated place for posters would eliminate the silly and extravagant expenditure on posters by some candidates, who engage in one-upmanship before an election.
“Surely this money could be put to much better use on a community project, instead of engaging in a speculative poster campaign,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of candidates, who failed to secure election, incurred the largest expenditure. The biggest high-profile casualty, former Mayor of Clare, Councillor Joe Arkins, spent €4,796, which included €1,892 on posters, €874 on election promotional material and €1,200 on diesel. This was financed by €2,619 from his own resources and €2,177 from Clare Fine Gael.
Labour candidate, Seamus Ryan, who suffered from the Labour backlash and was eliminated in the fifth count in the Ennis Electoral Area, spent €4,918. This included €1,479 on advertising, €2,610 on posters, €555 on leaflets and €200 on printing and stationary. This came from €2,494 from his own resources and €2,423 from other resources.
Kilmurry publican, Alan O’Callaghan, who defied the odds by winning a seat in the Killaloe Electoral Area, spent €4,802 on his election campaign. This included €700 on advertising, €400 on publicity material, €1,500 on posters, €879 on transport and travel and €500 on his campaign team.
Poll-topper Joe Cooney spent €3,184, which was less than Michael Begley’s total of €4,233 and Pat Burke’s €2,715.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Pat Hayes spent €3,592, while Tony O’Brien returned to the council, after spending €2,740 on his campaign.
This was in sharp contrast to the lowest expenditure by long-serving Fianna Fáil Councillor, PJ Kelly, who incurred a mere €640.
Councillor Kelly confirmed he never erected political posters or distributed election literature, as he felt this was a “waste of time”. “I don’t buy a drink for a person until after the election,” he said.
In the Kilrush Municipal District, Gabriel Keating spent €3,641, Oliver Garry incurred €3,644, while Councillor Michael Hillery spent €2,159. This excluded an extra €500, which was spent outside the statutory declaration period, and an estimated €1,500, which he had inadvertently omitted in his return.
Fianna Fáil candidate, Louise Roche McNamara and three Fís Nua candidates, Vera Moloney, Damon Mathew Wise and Karen Wise, did not incur any personal election expenditure.
In the Ennis Municipal District, Independent candidate, Ann Norton incurred €1,002 in election expenditure, which compared to €3,047 for Claire Colleran-Molloy, €3,665 for Pat Daly, €3,016 for Tom McNamara, €4,175 by Paul Murphy and €2,098 by James Breen.
The breakdown for the election expenditure for Clare County Councillors is: Michael Begley, €4,233; James Breen, €2,098; Pat Burke, €2,715; Bill Chambers, €3,043; Claire Colleran-Molloy, €3,047; Joe Cooney, €3,184; Cathal Crowe, €1,711; John Crowe, €3,957; Christy Curtin, €3,917; Pat Daly, €3,665; Gerry Flynn, €3,315; Johnny Flynn, €5,204; Oliver Garry, €3,644; Pat Hayes, €3,592; Michael Hillery, €2,989; Mary Howard, €2,979; PJ Kelly, €640; Gabriel Keating, €3,641; Ian Lynch, €2,412; Mike McKee, €1,750; Pat McMahon, €3,705; Tom McNamara, €3,016; Paul Murphy, €4,175; Richard Nagle, €4,533; Tony O’Brien, €2,740; Alan O’Callaghan, €4,802; PJ Ryan, €2,526; Bill Slattery, €3,202.
The breakdown for the election expenditure for candidates who didn’t get elected is: George Atijohn, €1,291; Joe Arkins, €4,796; Jackie Dale, €110; Joe Enright, €810; Cillian Griffey, €3,958; Michael Guilfoyle, €1,400; Dermot Hayes, €4,067; Kevin Heapes, €1,106; Donal Higgins, €2,390; David Houlihan, €1,261; Pat Keane, €2,213; Gerry Kennedy, €3,206; Sean McLoughlin, €4,385; Marian McMahon Jones, €2,726; Tony McMahon, €581; Paula McNamara, €2,721; Brian Meaney, €1,870; Noeleen Moran, €1,367; Tony Mulqueen, €2,033; Frankie Neylon, €5,200; Ann Norton, €1,002; Niamh O’Brien, €1,405; Pat O’Gorman, €500; Ger O’Halloran, €2,834; Paul O’Shea, €3,700; Felix Osa Omorodion, €3,388; Seamus Ryan, €4,918; Seónaidh Ní Shíomóin, €1,261; Gerben Unk, €1,178, Pascal Fitzgerald, €2,500.
By Dan Danaher