*Tallies are taken during the 2019 local elections. Photograph: Martin Connolly

A BIG CASUALTY is expected in Clare with at least one sitting councillor tipped to lose out in the local elections.

Speaking on The Electoral Chair, Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) predicted, “There will be a big name to fall”.

In 2019, of the twenty three sitting councillors that sought re-election, only Bill Slattery (FG) was unsuccessful in a bid to return to Clare County Council.

Once again, twenty three sitting councillors are on the ballot paper following the exits of Cllr PJ Kelly (FF), Cllr Pat McMahon (FF), Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND), Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) and Cllr Ann Norton (IND). This time round, it is anticipated that more than one of the twenty three will lose out.

Sinn Féin are on course to double their representation on the County Council with Tommy Guilfoyle (SF) touted as a potential poll-topper in the Ennis Municipal District.

Another first-time candidate Antoinette Baker Bashua (FF) is gaining momentum and received a major boost with Mark Nestor (FF) assisting her canvass over the weekend. The Hermitage woman also has strong family links to Barefield, an area that will have a big influence this time round following the retirement from politics of Cllr Norton.

Sitting Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) is expected to retain his seat, even though he struggled to get over the line in 2019.

This tees up a major battle for four seats in the Ennis MD with Cllr Paul Murphy (FG), Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF), Cllr Mary Howard (FG) and Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) all involved in this along with Hilary Tonge (SD), Bridget Ginnity (GP) and Seamus Ryan (LAB) with Tonge viewed as the strongest of the challenging trio. The ballot is completed by the county’s youngest candidate Ruairí Keenan (IND), Amanda Major (IND) and Jacek Kazimierz Kwaśny (IND).

Kilrush LEA which has been described as a bloodbath is set to elect a first-time candidate in the guise of Dinny Gould (IND), success for the Cree bookie would see Fine Gael come under criticism for failing to add him to their ticket, this despite the high chance that Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) will top the poll in the five-seat constituency.

Fianna Fáil elected three councillors in 2019 in Kilrush LEA but party officials expect that a seat will be lost. Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) is viewed as their strongest candidate, Cllr Rita McInerney (FF)’s six month stint on the Council will stand to her, Alan Troy (FF) is benefitting from having Cllr Kelly in his corner while Michael Shannon (FF) has received a boost with a number of high-profile Clare footballers among his supporters.

Shannon is one of three candidates in the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane alongside Therese Doohan (FG) and Joseph Woulfe (II), whichever one of the trio is ahead following the first count will be in the shake-up.

How Dawn Bennett (SF) fares in the town of Kilrush will have a big bearing on the final outcome, both she and Cllr McInerney are anticipated to nab votes from Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) but Lynch is still on course to hold his seat.

Others vying to cause an upset in West Clare include Kevin Hassett (II) and John Hill (IFP). Susan Griffin (GP) has come across as a strong performer in election debates but it is felt that the Green Party left it too late to add her to the ticket.

East Clare for the third election in a row is forecast to return the same sitting five elected representatives. Cllr Joe Cooney (FG), Cllr Pat Hayes (FF), Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF), Cllr Pat Burke (FG) and Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) are all tipped to be back in situ when counting is concluded for the Killaloe Municipal District.

With a combined 1,039 of votes from Barry O’Donovan (GP) and Joe Floyd (IND) from 2019 on offer, the anti-establishment candidate that can benefit from these will be leading the chasing pack against the sitting five. Fiona Levie (SD) has been touted as a dark-horse with Martina Cleary (SF) and Matt Moroney (II) also in the mix but Moroney’s absence from election debates organised by The Clare Echo, Clare FM and Scariff Bay Community Radio could limit his cause. Audrey Flynn (GP) is unlikely to match the strong performance of O’Donovan from five years ago.

One of the most intriguing battle grounds in Clare that has gone quietly under the radar is the Shannon MD. Poll-toppers here are likely to be Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF), Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) or Cllr John Crowe (FG).

Matters are expected to be very tight in filling the remaining four seats. Cllr Michael Begley (IND) according to pundits will be under pressure to retain his seat but the position of Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) who lost elections in 2009 and 2014 polling under 800 votes is expected to be in a tighter spot.

How David Griffin (FF) fares in the village of Newmarket-on-Fergus will determine if he wins a seat. The first-time candidate has received a positive reception on the doors, he will poll well in Stonehall along with picking up votes in Shannon and Sixmilebridge but the ‘village vote’ will decide his fate. John Haugh (AON) based in the parish of Newmarket-on-Fergus would benefit more from a Bunratty base rather than the village which could curb his chances.

After eight years out of politics, Tony Mulcahy (FG) is back on the ballot paper. The ex-Senator has not done a strong canvass and may be at risk of an unsuccessful comeback if Val Gillane (FG) receives a strong vote and he is expected to get higher than Eugene Long’s (FG) first preference vote of 619 in 2019.

Five years ago, Cathal Crowe (FF) amassed 2,575 votes and was elected on the first count. The TD indicated that a lot of this is a personal vote but it will scatter along South Clare in Meelick, Westbury, Parteen, Ardnacrusha and Clonlara. Hoping to benefit is Rachel Hartigan (FF) who has worked in his constituency office along but Cllr Begley is expected to gain here along with Gillane.

Sinn Féin’s standing in South Clare will become clearer with the performance of James Ryan (SF) who could emerge in contention with a strong first preference coupled with transfers from McGettigan.

Should Shannon Town come out in force with a determination to elect its own then that would fare very well for Keith McNamara (IND) and to a lesser extent Pat Barry (IND).

Both Fursa Cavanagh (GP) and Conor O’Brien (IND) have done little to enhance their profile and will be among the first candidates eliminated in the Shannon MD.

Labelled as “a grudge match”, “a shootout” and “a battle royale” there is less competition but as much friction for the four seats in the Ennistymon LEA. Cllr Shane Talty (FF) topped the poll with 1,977 in 2019, while his chances of replicating this are reduced, he will do enough to retain his seat alongside Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG).

This leaves Cllr Liam Grant (GP) and Bill Slattery (FG) battling for the final seat, defeat for Grant would leave the Greens without a voice on the Council unless there is a shock elsewhere in the county. Conor O’Sullivan (SF) is viewed as the strongest of the other contenders followed by Denis Vaughan (LAB), Pam O’Loughlin (IND) and Michael Loughrey (IP).

Within Ireland South, Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) is touted to take one of the five seats alongside Billy Kelleher (FF), Sean Kelly (FG) and Kathleen Function (SF) with the final spot expected to take days to deliver an outcome.

Polling stations will be open across Clare from 7am to 10pm on Friday.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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