FIANNA Fáil have selected four candidates to stand in the Shannon Electoral Area in next year’s local elections.
Sitting councillors Pat McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus) and Cathal Crowe (Meelick) will be joined by former mayor of Clare Pat O’Gorman (Cratloe) and Louise Roche McNamara (Shannon).
The newly defined electoral area is set to be the most competitive in Clare with eight outgoing councillors fighting for just six seats. The youngest county councillor in the country when he was elected in 2004, Cathal Crowe is hoping to retain his seat for the second time.
While four candidates are standing, he feels Fianna Fáil can at best hope to win three seats. “At a minimum I’d hope we’d hold our two seats, but I believe we can gain a third seat. Four would be incredible, but I don’t think that’s realistic.”
The re-drawn boundaries, which have brought him into the Shannon area, won’t do him any harm, he believes. “I’m happy with it, but I’m sorry to have lost Clonlara where I had good support. I was born and bred a Meelick man and the last time that was split in half, my own parents couldn’t vote for me or a lot of people I grew up with. I’m also going to be in Cratloe, an area I represented from 2004 to 2009 and I got a good vote in that area.”
He said that he will be putting in a huge campaign. “Over the course of the 2004 election campaign I lost 2 stone weight and literally burnt holes through my shoe leather as a result of my extensive canvassing. I’m prepared to do the very same in 2014.”
It will be Pat O’Gorman’s fourth attempt to win a seat, having had one term on the local authority so far.
He represented the old Killaloe area from 1999 to 2004, but lost out by a handful of votes when he tried to retain the seat. O’Gorman ran in the Shannon electoral area in 2009, but wasn’t successful.
He feels that the redrawn boundaries won’t help him very much. “Not really, to be honest about it. I had a good bit of work done around Kilkishen, Kilmurry, Castlecrine and the outskirts of Sixmilebridge. That’d all be near enough to me. I have family there too, but it’s all out of the equation at the moment.”
Running on a Fianna Fáil ticket in 2009 without having the profile of a sitting councillor was a big ask, as the Soldiers of Destiny were in a state of freefall.
The party has recovered to a certain extent now, and he says that all parties are affected by cynicism to some extent. “There’s still a bit (anti Fianna Fáil sentiment) out there I’d say, but at the moment I’d say there’s a kind of negativity against all political parties really, the political system is looked at negatively, whether you’re Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour or whatever.”
An awful lot of canvassing will be needed prior to next year’s election, he added. “I’m going starting straight away. It’s not that the area is so big but there’s a very large population. If you take West Clare there’s a very large area but maybe not such a big population. Here, you have nine or ten thousand people between Parteen, Shannon Banks and Westbury alone.”