THE extent of the dramatic collapse in the Fianna Fáil vote in Clare from 44% to 22% wasn’t fully reflected on the doorsteps, according to local Comhairle Dáil Ceanntair secretary, Gerry Reidy.
While local party activists expected a significant swing against the party based on national polls, Mr Reidy said a lot of constituents did not vent their anger or engage with canvassers at the door.
However, he also pointed out that Fianna Fáil’s share of the vote was one of the highest in the country, much higher than some Dublin constituencies, where it slumped to as low as 10%.
Regardless of which Fianna Fáil candidates were offered to the local electorate, he felt people wanted a change and a new government.
Defending the two-candidate strategy, he described Dr John Hillery as a very credible candidate, who managed to secure a sizeable vote, despite being a late entry into the campaign.
He highlighted the need for reform within the party. “There needs to be a root and branch reform looking at all the structures in Clare. We need more youth organisations, a lot of our youth organisations are concentrated in universities. We have to learn lessons and implement change over the next few months.”
Comhairle Dáil Ceanntair chairman, Patrick Moloney pointed out it was very hard to buck a national trend against the Government at local level.
Mr Moloney said he never thought he would see the day where just one Fianna Fáil candidate was fighting for the last seat in Clare.
“Even though we knew it would be bad, when you get used to winning elections, people start to take it for granted. I think when you get a taste of opposition, there will be more hunger to succeed at the next election.
“It is easier to organise and build up a party and recruit new members in opposition. We have to look at our organisation and examine ways to get young members more active. We need to build a strong team for the next local elections and should do better when we are in opposition,” he said.