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Tony Killeen, former Fianna Fail TD and defence minister. Photograph by John Kelly.

Positive end-of-year report for Clare’s TDs

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CLARE’S four TDs have been given a positive end-of-year report by a former minister, after the first 12 months of the 33rd Dáil.

Former defence minister Tony Killeen ran the rule of the constituency’s Dáil representatives and concluded that, as things stand, all four can be reasonably confident of retaining their seats.

Mr Killeen judged first-time TD and Fianna Fáil Cathal Crowe to have made a positive impact. “I’m hearing some really positive feedback from individuals and community groups about his constituency office,” he said. “He seems to have become a go-to TD for community organisations. Cathal has a style that suits being out and about on the ground. The pandemic has restricted that, obviously, but he has been using Zoom to keep in touch. He has boundless energy, he seems to run on Duracell. Of course, he’s not a political novice, but he has succeeded in making a positive impression over his first year in the Dáil.”

Another first-time TD, Sinn Féin’s Violet Anne Wynne has also performed well in the former minister’s view. “I think she has reasons to be happy,” he said. “Nobody had anticipated her success. She was one of the big surprises of the General Election in Clare. At the next election, she would seem well placed to keep her seat. Her main vulnerability would most likely be to a party running mate rather than an external candidate.”

Deputy Michael McNamara’s return to the Dáil in 2020 saw the Independent freed from a party whip. “He really hit the ground running,” noted Mr Killeen. “He knew the ropes because he’d held a Dáil seat previously. He’s logical and articulate and not afraid to hold an opinion that’s unpopular. He’s prepared to stand over his views and defend them. He also got the role of chairing the Special Committee on Covid-19 response which was a high profile position.”

After the surprise exit of Minister for State, Pat Breen in last year’s election, the mantle of veteran Clare TD now falls to his Fine Gael colleague Joe Carey. “I’m in touch with Pat fairly often,” said Mr Killeen, “and to my mind, he’s the happiest of the people to contest the election. He has a career he can be proud of. Joe is now very established. He has a great constituency office and he is a great operator in the constituency. Lots of organisations will tell you that Joe has worked hard and successfully on their behalf. When it comes to the next general election, I’m not sure Fine Gael will have people breaking down the door to run against Joe.”

Mr Killeen also noted that struggle that both big parties will have in regaining lost ground in Clare. “In 2020, both had been predicted to gain another seat for the party,” he said. “It won’t be impossible for either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to take two seats, but it won’t be easy. The prospect won’t be made any easier by their partnership in government either.”

 

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