Ennis will be electing at least one new councillor following tomorrow’s local elections.
In the hours ahead of #LE19, The Clare Echo will be publishing a full list of candidates in every electoral area with background information to help our readers make an informed and educated decision before travelling to the polling station.
When it comes to the election count, stay tuned to The Clare Echo across all our social media channels and our website for live updates from the election count at Treacys West County Hotel.
Sitting councillors James Breen (IND) and Tom McNamara (FF) are not seeking re-election, however the redrawing of the area has resulted in one less seat in the Ennis MD. This means there is guaranteed to be one new councillor elected with the possibility for more if any of the six sitting councillors are not returned.
Quin, Clooney and Kilmaley are no longer part of the Ennis MD with the area now covering all of Ennis, Barefield, Doora, Kilnamona, Clarecastle, Spancilhill, Templemaley and Kilraghtis.
Candidates appear below as they will on the ballot paper.
Colleran Molloy Clare (FF) – Being Fianna Fáil’s first ever female councillor in Clare is a piece of history that can never be taken away from Clare Colleran Molloy. The same cannot be said for her seat on the Council as like every candidate in the Ennis Municipal District, if she doesn’t receive enough votes, her time as a local representative will come to an end. Just three votes separated Clare and Ger O’Halloran in winning the final seat five years ago, the redrawing of the electoral area has taken her native Quin and neighbouring Clooney from the Ennis MD which will have an impact on her support base. Since 2014, Colleran Molloy has strengthened her profile and in her capacity as Mayor of Ennis is regularly conducting photo shoots at several events throughout the District. She contested the 2016 General Election where she was eliminated on the sixth count but her transfers ensured Timmy Dooley was the first TD elected. Supporting victims of domestic abuse has been a recent motion flagged by Colleran Molloy in the Council Chamber. A qualified barrister, Clare comes from a family of fourteen and is the sister of journalist Ger Colleran.
Cullinan Frank (IND) – Everybody needs goes neighbours goes the catchy theme tune of the Australian soap but for Frank Cullinan, the support and backing of his neighbour James Breen has helped launch his entry into politics. A long-time canvasser for Breen, Frank is planning on going from being one of the foot soldiers to a general in his first political campaign as a candidate. The Kilnamona man has said he won’t make promises he can’t keep and pinpoints Ennis General Hospital as the key issue affecting the electorate in the Ennis MD. Struggles to secure a full-time job forced Frank to relocate to Scotland for a period of three years earlier this decade and his situation is one men and women of the county will be able to relate to. Since returning to Clare in 2016, he has lived in Ennis and describes himself as a people person. Confident with the team behind him, Frank says he’s in it to win as he intends to win the seat vacated by his friend and neighbour.
D’Auria Alfonso (IND) – From the chipper to the Council Chamber is the aim for Alfonso D’Auria as he enters politics for the first time. The notion of contesting the local elections initially crossed his mind five years ago and he is now one of six Independent candidates in the Ennis MD. Having ran the popular Enzo’s in Parnell St for the last twenty years, Alfonso already has a strong profile at his disposal and is anxious to become the voice of soletraders if elected to the local authority. Though welcoming of LIT’s expansion into Bindon St, he believes Ennis should have higher expectations and have its own third level faculty attended by 500 students. A former Chairman of the CSSL, D’Auria is not the first man involved in the beautiful game to enter politics, Michael Guilfoyle the former Independent town councillor first elected in 1985 also combined local office with football. The Parnell St businessman is of the belief keeping children in sport will keep them out of court. For now, the Avenue Utd clubman sees politics as the pathway to helping the town achieve its potential.
Daly Pat (FF) – A former Mayor of Clare and Ennis, Pat Daly will celebrate twenty years on the council if re-elected in May fresh off his appointment to the governing body of UCD. Born and bred on Parnell St, he is keen to have a say in the upcoming €1.4m regeneration works to reopen more properties there, his family previously ran a drapery business on the street, which closed in 1991. In recent months, he has been singing off the hymn sheet of increasing the amount of music festivals in the county town. Daly proposed a week-long traditional music festival á la Willie Clancy in honour of Tommy Peoples to take place on the Whit Weekend and that a bid be made to have the Fleadh down in Ennis by 2024. Pat has listed health, parking and housing as key issues he will be pushing on the doorsteps and stated his concern with the lack of social housing built since 2011. A proud supporter of the Éire Óg townies, his regular request for speed bumps outside the club grounds have fell on deaf ears but he’s hopeful his bid to return won’t be as slow as the installation of speed calming measures there.
Flynn Johnny (FG) – Ten years since his first election to Clare County Council, Johnny Flynn is hoping to complete a three in a row when the votes are counted on Saturday. In his two Council election attempts, not alone has Flynn been successful but he was elected on the first count in 2009 (Ennis East) and was the third candidate to win a seat in 2014. Prior to that the former Chief Officer served on the now defunct Ennis Town Council. He is very proud of his involvement in assisting Dublin Coach secure a licence into Ennis creating hourly access to Bunratty, Limerick City, UL and Dublin via bus. Over the course of this term, he has called for a town bus system to be set up in Clare’s county town and more recently for a 24 hour Accident and Emergency Unit to be reopened at Ennis General Hospital. The father of four declined a request from his party to contest the 2016 General Election instead opting to stay local, as their biggest vote getter in the area Fine Gael will be confident of his re-election.
Hakizimana Sibo André (IND) – André is one of four Ennis MD candidates that unsuccessfully contested the 2016 General Election, where he was eliminated in the first count. An economic policy consultant, he has promised to develop a school of economics and TV station in Ennis if elected to the local authority. The father to four believes his experience will lead to positive changes in the economic policies operated by Clare County Council. He has published two books, ‘The Irish Economy: Past, Present, and Future’ and ‘Understanding Everyday Governments Ways of Job Creation’. Since moving to Ennis in 2004, the Rwanda native has obtained a honours degree from NUIG in sociology, politics and economics, in 2011 he completed a masters in economics at UCC. Though he was the first candidate in the Ennis MD to decide to contest the local election, Hakizimana was the last to make the information known to the public.
Hayes Dermot (IND) – As 2019 dawned, Dermot Hayes would not have envisaged seeing his name on the ballot paper as an Independent candidate. Nominated to contest Seamus Ryan in The Labour Party selection, the Corofin native informed party headquarters he was terminating his membership after close to two decades. The disability rights campaigner received a strong reaction to the news following its publication in The Clare Echo and has since opted to go Independent. Along with Frankie Neylon and Ger O’Halloran, Hayes was one of the last candidates standing in the 2014 local elections but it was Clare Colleran Molloy that nabbed the coveted final seat. Currently, he serves as a Clare PPN representative on the Joint Policing Committee, CLDC and on the Social Development SPC. A father of two, he has pledged to deliver results for inclusion and housing solutions. He moved to Ennis in 1974 and has warned that if immigrants to the town are not included which it will lead to the fracturing of society. A founding member of the Clare Leader Forum, Dermot is a presenter with Raidió Corca Baiscinn and is optimistic that his voice will be beamed to the county as a councillor later this year.
Howard Mary (FG) – Her father, Michael was a Senator and since becoming a county councillor five years ago, Mary has begun to carve her own political legacy which of course started with her 2009 election to Ennis Town Council. Women’s health has been to the fore of her agenda, this work resulted in a comprehensive and professional breast check service for the women of Ennis. Mary proposed the late Laura Brennan for the Clare Person of the Year and became friendly with the HPV vaccine advocate as Laura tirelessly devoted the last few months of her life to increasing awareness on the vaccine. She has questioned how other councillors can manage to hold down another job whilst being an elected representative. Howard unsuccessfully contested General and Seanad elections in 2016. The current chairperson of the Clare Joint Policing Committee, she and her canvassers are once again turning heads with their bright pink hi-vis jackets as they toured the highways and byways of the District. A member of the Ennis Tidy Towns committee, Mary wants to clean up when it comes to the ballot boxes, she secured 5.59 percent of first preference votes in the 2014 local elections.
Kirwan Chris (SD) – If completing his final year of studies wasn’t enough pressure, Chris Kirwan is also vying to become a county councillor. As it stands, he is the youngest candidate running in the Ennis Municipal District. A St Flannans College graduate, Chris has pinpointed housing, mental health and climate change as his key themes in his first election campaign, it was during his time in secondary school that he first became aware of the struggle friends of his had to access mental health services. He is one of the few candidates to voice opposition to a proposed gas terminal at Shannon LNG. Not long after canvassing during the Marriage Equality Referendum, Kirwan joined the Social Democrats, he is the youngest of three childen and his parents would typically have voted for Labour or Fianna Fáil in the past. The twenty five year old has equated winning a seat on the Council as an entry-level job into politics and maintained there is a left wing voice missing from the Chamber which he would hope to provide. Chris actively partakes in jiu jitsu at the Clare Academy and will need a takedown of political sorts to overcome sitting councillors.
Major Amanda (IND) – Ireland has never elected a female Nigerian councillor, Amanda Major wants to buck the trend and be the first. The eldest of six children, Amanda relocated to Ennis in 2007 and prior to that lived in Co Monaghan, Scariff and Shannon. When she did arrive in the country, the mother of three resided in Direct Provision and is calling for it to be scrapped. Greater support and training for stressed single parents is required in her opinion. Having received her Irish citizenship four years ago, it was in an interview with The Clare Echo last week that she spoke publicly for the first time about an incident which took place in 2014 where she was racially abused by an elderly man in front of her children, such instances have been a rare occurence she admitted. A part-time employee of Clarecare, Amanda has welcomed the potential of upcoming developments in the county town but has questioned if Ennis is sufficiently prepared to have a Data Centre and for LIT’s expansion into the county with the current road network and availability of houses.
McGettigan Donna Deirdre (SF) – Belfast born, residing in Shannon but running in the Ennis Municipal District, Donna Deirdre McGettigan was one of the first out of the blocks when it came to canvassing but whether she will be one of the seven candidates to win a seat remains to be seen. 2014 was a successful campaign for Sinn Féin in Clare, in Ennis Cathal O’Reilly was gathering support but pulled out in the week of the election after anti-traveller remarks of his resurfaced online, despite his withdrawal he lasted until the eighth count. The mother of one was the only individual to express an interest to represent Sinn Féin in the Ennis MD and said her decision to enter the race a case of practicing what she preaches in terms of encouraging more women to run for public office. In the mid 90s, Donna worked at Cahercalla Hospital and is confident the fact she’s living outside the electoral area won’t deter people from giving her their number one vote. Last year, McGettigan sat her Leaving Certificate in Maths and English, her election would be a first class honours result for Sinn Féin.
Murphy Paul (FG) – Clarecastle has a strong history of electing Fine Gael councillors, a certain Paul Murphy is counting on that to continue. The father of two was co-opted to the local authority in 2007 when one such Clarecastle representative, Joe Carey was elected to Dáil Éireann. His year as the Mayor of Ennis was a lucky one as the town was judged both the cleanest and friendliest in Ireland. Fine Gael’s website states Murphy is commited to the issue of gender quotas and he has admitted there is a glaring gender imbalance on Clare County Council. Loneliness and mental health are some of the issues he has highlighted during his time in office plus regularly flagging safety concerns at Clareabbey Roundabout. A member of the Clarecastle GAA Executive, Paul is unsure as to whether he will suffer a backlash as a consequence of the looming closure of the village’s biggest employer, Roche. One of the many weekly readers of The Clare Echo, he was inspired by an editorial in this paper last year suggesting Shannon Airport be rebranded The Wild Atlantic Way Airport, he brought the matter to the attention of Airport management but the idea endured a crash landing.
Nestor Mark (FF) – Aged twenty seven, Mark is Fianna Fáil’s youngest candidate in the county. Along with ex councillor Bernard Hanrahan he sought a place on the party ticket prior to Chritmas but when a two candidate directive was issued by party headquarters, the Cloughleigh man lost out. Four months on, he received the news he had been waiting for and is now playing catchup on the campaign trail. Working as Development Officer with An Clár as Gaeilge, Nestor believes Ennis has the potential to become a bi-lingual town. He is involved in a voluntary capacity with the Community Games, Macra na Feirme and Fleadh Cheoil an Chláir. His father, the late Jimmy Brohan was a well known and popular businessman, Mark feels once business is booming in the town surrounding areas benefit. The NUIG graduate wants better mental health and counselling services for the people of Clare and sees a potential role as a councillor a way of making progress to securing a better standard of service. With the votes of retiring Fianna Fáil councillor Tom McNamara, up for grabs, Nestor needs to capitalise if he is to ensure the party remains with three representatives in the District.
Norton Ann (IND) – First to be elected in the Ennis Municipal District in 2014, Ann Norton added to her political experience two years later when putting her name in the ring for the General Election where she finished up in eighth spot out of a field of sixteen. A co-founder of the Clare Crusaders Clinic, Ann manages the Barefield facility on a voluntary basis. Unsurprisingly health care has been one of the items the mother of three has flagged and she is one of the county’s four representatives on the Regional Health Forum West. The Louth native had the distinction of serving as Mayor of Ennis in 2016 when Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann returned to the county for the first time since 1977. In 2013, Norton had the honour of being named Clare Person of the Year by the Clare Association in Dublin, securing enough votes to remain as a councillor is the next contest she is determined to win. Ann admitted that topping the poll is not her number one priority and rather retaining it, she has stated her desire for all six sitting councillors in the Ennis District to be returned.
Ryan Seamus (LAB) – It’s not Last of the Mohicans but instead Last of Labour as Seamus Ryan is the party’s only declared candidate in the entire county. It has been a difficult five years for Labour, the 2016 General Election ranked among the worst in its 107 year history and came five years after its best ever, 18 TDS failed to be re-elected among them Clare’s Michael McNamara. The local elections were no different as none of its five candidates were elected, sitting councillor Pascal Fitzgerald lost his seat. Seamus was eliminated on the fourth count in 2014, the Ennis librarian will have read up on how to build his voting base and will be determined to have a better outcome this time round. One of the last children to be born at the County Hospital in Ennis, the Moy native was one of the county’s most prominent campaigners for Repeal in last years Eighth Amendement referndum. The Chair of the Clare Health and Local Government Branch of Forsa Trade Union has called on the post office field to be protected from development and for the start of community bike scheme in the town.