IF Fine Gael were to re-run its 2011 three-candidate electoral strategy in Clare with the same candidates, it would equate to “political stupidity”, according to Senator Martin Conway.
That time the party held its two seats, which will surely be the limit of its ambitions for the next election, which is due within nine months, but the North Clare man said he must be included on the next ticket.
Senator Conway said, “I don’t anticipate at this stage that I won’t be a Fine Gael candidate. If I wasn’t going to be a Fine Gael candidate, I’d expect to have been told at this stage, as a sitting member of the Oireachtas. I’m working on the basis that I’m going to be a candidate. North and West Clare always had a TD over the years and now that there’s a Sinn Féin candidate [Noeleen Moran] in Ballyvaughan and most likely a Fianna Fáil candidate in Miltown [Michael McDonagh], it would be political stupidity not to put me on.”
While the party won’t hold their selection convention until September, he said he already has work done. “I’ve been in election mode for a long time at this stage. Conventions are kind of just formalising a process really and I’m getting a great response on the ground from people. I feel that there’s significant enthusiasm for my style of politics and my type of campaigning.”
It’s all but certain that the two sitting TDs, Joe Carey and Pat Breen, will be on the ticket, while Senator Tony Mulcahy, who stood in 2007 and 2011, told The Clare Champion he would like another crack.
This means that if the party don’t go with at least a four-candidate strategy, one of its Clare Oireachtas members will be facing disappointment.
“I’d be reasonably confident of securing quite a large number of votes again. I’ve done a lot of hard work in the interim period and kept up the work that I was doing over the years,” Senator Mulcahy said.
He said he has had no indication of what the party’s top brass have in mind for the Banner County.
“Pat and Joe are going to be running anyway; I don’t think that’s a State secret. What’s beyond that I don’t know. It’ll be a decision that I don’t think will be in my hands.”
In the next general election, Deputy Joe Carey will be looking to win a seat for the third successive election.
On Wednesday, he said he hasn’t really devoted much time to thinking about what strategy would maximise the party’s performance in Clare.
“I haven’t really given it much thought, to be honest. The convention will be held sometime in September and it’s important that we get the strategy right and retain our two seats in County Clare. I’m determined to retain my seat. When I won it in 2007, it was the first time in 20 years Fine Gael won two seats in Clare.”
He said he has started working towards what will be an extremely competitive election. “As a politician you’re always in election mode, your campaign starts the very day of the count. In that regard, I’ve done quite an amount of election preparation.”
Two other prominent Fine Gael members, Councillors Mary Howard and Joe Cooney, said they haven’t really considered seeking a place on the party’s ticket at this point.
By Owen Ryan