Candidates attending the Scariff Bay Community Radio election debate with representatives of the station.

ABSENTEEISM from candidates in the Killaloe Municipal District for three election debates have been slammed by outgoing councillors.

Two election debates have been hosted so far for candidates in the Killaloe Municipal District. The Clare Echo invited all candidates to appear on an election debate special of the political podcast, The Electoral Chair while Scariff Bay Community Radio broadcasted an election special over the weekend. Clare FM recorded its election debate for the Killaloe MD this week

For the three debates, the sitting five of Cllr Pat Burke (FG), Cllr Joe Cooney (FG), Cllr Pat Hayes (FF), Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) and Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) were all in attendance.

Fiona Levie (SD) was present for all debates. Work commitments were cited by Audrey Flynn (GP) and Matt Moroney (II) for their absence on both occasions while Martina Cleary (SF) never acknowledged attempts to be contacted by The Clare Echo via phone, text or email but did show up for the SBCR special. Cleary was present for the Clare FM recording but once again Flynn and Moroney were absent.

An audio message was recorded by Flynn for the SBCR radio debate but no response was received by Moroney.

Addressing the matter during The Electoral Chair election debate, Cllr Hayes said he was “surprised and more disappointed” that a third of the candidates were absent. “For the five sitting councillors we’d like to be challenged, to hear new ideas and issues. Fiona is here and it is great to have here, you don’t get too many opportunities to get into debate mode during an election or during the years but media has changed and the opportunity The Clare Echo are giving us to discuss issues right across our Municipal District will give us a chance to debate that and get into the nitty gritty of what new candidates are putting forward.. A lot of people are asking who these people are and what they stand for”.

Similar views were voiced by Cllr Burke. “We don’t get too many opportunities to debate, I’m very familiar with Fiona but I haven’t met two of the new candidates before and I’m very disappointed that they didn’t show up to tell us what they have to offer the Killaloe MD”.

Work commitments can pose barriers in political life, Cllr Cooney acknowledged. “It is disappointing that we haven’t a full team here today and we have to give considerations to working people as well, we are well aware that it is only a part-time job for a lot of people. It is great to see Fiona here as one of the new candidates but it would have been nice to have them all here”.

This view was rejected by Cllr O’Brien. “I disagree with Joe, ye have given us a platform and I think if anybody is serious about representing their community then they should be sititng here, it is their duty to be sitting here, we all work and have busy lives, it is their duty to be sitting here and discussing what they can put forward”.

When there was more absences at the SBCR recording, the matter was flagged by Cllr O’Brien. “It is very interesting that this our second attempt to have a debate but two candidates and political parties missing who we don’t know anything about, who we don’t know what their aims are or what they intend to do”. He added, “They continue to run, it is worth pointing out to the listeners that there are people who were invited here, we all make sacrifices, we got plenty of notice to make our arrangements and make sure if we wanted to make ourselves available to be here but there are candidates who ran away from this”.

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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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