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Councillor Donna Mc Gettigan

Polls are ‘very, very encouraging’ for SF

WITH an opinion poll last week showing Sinn Féin at 35%, way ahead of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael who are both on 20%, it is clear that the party are still increasing their popularity, following their success in last year’s general election.
When Violet Anne Wynne took a seat in Clare in early 2020 it was a huge shock, but really only reflected the national picture, where the party were picking up numerous seats that had looked beyond them.
The party has one seat on Clare County Council, now held by Donna McGettigan who was co-opted to replace the late Mike McKee, and she said she was pleased with the direction the party is going in.
“These polls are very, very encouraging and it shows we are doing the right things. We’re actually out on the ground, we don’t just call at election time, we are working very hard and we’re getting to the issues that mean something to people and it’s very encouraging.”
Winning one seat in Clare was a big surprise in 2020, but is it possible that Sinn Féin could be looking to take a second at the next election?
“We haven’t decided that yet, it’ll be up to the party, they’’ll look at the numbers and decide, I honestly don’t know.”
Sinn Féin’s priority is the ending of partition, and with demographic change in the North, a border poll has emerged as a serious political issue on both sides of the border.
Councillor McGettigan said that it is now being talked about frequently as far south as Clare.
“I hear it even out on hikes and in different parts of the county. I’m hearing it more and more often and from people I’d never have expected to. It seems to be on people’s lips, whether people agree with it or not it’s being talked about, which is a good thing.”
Minister Paschal Donohoe has already floated the idea of the three party coalition approaching the next election asking to be returned to office, which would be a significant development, given that only a few years ago Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael even being in coalition together was unthinkable.
This week Fianna Fáil’s Councillor Shane Talty said it is far too early to be planning for a general election that isn’t due until 2025.
“I don’t know why they’re even discussing that only two years on from the last election. I wouldn’t be making any plans or commitments on how to fight the next election. You have to serve the term and as you come to the end of the term make decisions like that.”
On the Fine Gael side, Councillor Mary Howard said that unless the party does perform very well in the next election, it could be time for the party to into opposition for the first time since 2011.
“Unless we get a clear signal from the population, I’d be very keen that Fine Gael take a step back from Government.
It was my attitude last time, the public spoke, but in hindsight it was the correct thing to do, to form that Government because pretty quickly afterwards Covid appeared, Brexit was happening and there was a lot of stuff that had to be dealt with. It was an honourable thing to do.”
She also said it is very early to predict how things will go.
“The polls are only a snapshot of a moment in time and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”

About Owen Ryan

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.