By Owen Ryan
MICHAEL Fleming, who served as Mayor of Shannon between the summers of 2012 and 2013 has announced he will be seeking election to Clare County Council in next month’s local elections.
Elected to the Town Council as a Fine Gael representative five years ago, he left the party subsequently.
He will also be running as an independent in next month’s elections and he said that not being in a party will allow him to speak his mind to a greater extent. “As an independent I have more of an opportunity to voice my opinion. I worked hard for the people of the community and I intend to continue to be loyal to the people of the community.”
When he spoke to The Clare Champion on Monday, he acknowledged that he has yet to start canvassing. “I haven’t really (started yet) because I only decided last Thursday that I decided I was going to run as an independent. I hadn’t really my mind made up as to what I wanted to do. The nomination papers have to be in this week.”
He won the last seat in the Town Council elections in 2009, pipping Noel McNamara and ensuring that there would be no Fianna Fáil representative elected. The five years on the Town Council has been something he really enjoyed. “I loved it. As I said I’ve always been a hard worker and been involved in local community activities. After being elected in 2009 to serve on Shannon Town Council I had more of an opportunity and could be a voice for the people. Now I’m prepared to go on from that and work for the benefit of the people of the community here and the surrounding areas.”
The redrawn electoral area is set to see a huge battle for the six available seats and it will be very challenging for an independent who hasn’t been on the county council before. However, he intends to at least give it his best shot. “It’s like the Lotto, if you’re not in you can’t win. It will be down to the people on the day. I served as Mayor of Shannon last year and I think I did a good job on that and I want to continue working for the people.”
The ending of Councillor Fleming’s association with Fine Gael came after didn’t comply with a party decisiton and voted against independent Patricia McCarthy for Mayor of Shannon, going for Labour’s Greg Duff instead. It was a decisive vote, which saw Duff take the chain of office and afterwards Councillor Fleming said he had had issues with his former party colleagues. “During the year as Mayor none of them bothered to contact me and ask me how I was getting on, I got no support from them whatsoever.”
However Fine Gael’s Sean McLoughlin, who is also standing in this month’s elections, rejected his claim. “From the day he was elected onto the Council, any time he range me for any advice or help I gave it to him. All he had to do was pick up the phone and ask us what he wanted us to do and we’d do it.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.