*Cllr Liam Grant. 

NORTH CLARE is shaping up to be the big battle of Bill Slattery (FG) versus Cllr Liam Grant (GP) for the final seat in the Ennistymon local electoral area.

Four first-time councillors were elected in the Ennistymon LEA in 2019 as Cllr Shane Talty (FF), Cllr Joe Killeen (FF), Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) and Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) all prevailed while Bill Slattery was the only sitting councillor in the county to lose his seat.

Over the past five years, Inagh native Garvey was one of the Taoiseach’s nominees to the Seanad alongside Senator Timmy Dooley (FF). Her vacant seat was filled by Susan Crawford (GP) before the Miltown Malbay woman resigned from the local authority and this led to the addition of Cllr Grant in October 2022.

All four councillors in North Clare are seeking re-election to the Council, they are joined on the ballot by Slattery, Michael Loughrey (IP), Pam O’Loughlin (IND), Conor O’Sullivan (SF) and Denis Vaughan (LAB).

Political pundits have predicted the final seat will come down to a battle between the Lahinch duo of Slattery and Grant, the duo previously clashed over the erection of posters at the beginning of the election campaign but their biggest bout is set to be for the final seat in the Ennistymon LEA. Slattery was very hurt of losing out in 2019 while Cllr Grant has conceded that the Green Wave which helped to elect Garvey in 2019 is no longer as strong in North Clare.

A Fianna Fáil source told The Clare Echo that they view Talty as “safe” given his wide family network across Ennistymon, Lahinch and Miltown Malbay which helped him to a remarkable return of 1,977 first preference votes in his debut election five years ago. Conor O’Sullivan’s addition to the ballot “is an immediate challenge for Joe Killeen” given his base in Corofin, according to Killeen’s party colleague.

“It is a massive grudge match between Bill Slattery and Joe Garrihy,” the Fianna Fáil member said of what to expect in the Ennistymon LEA. “Bill appears to be getting the traditional Fine Gael vote while Joe has helped thousands of Ukrainians in North Clare”.

Geography is among the factors working to the advantage of Cllr Garrihy, according to a Fine Gael source. “Joe Garrihy will win his seat and so too will Joe Killeen,” the Fine Gaeler predicted. “The next two seats then are between the four of Bill Slattery, Shane Talty, Liam Grant and Conor O’Sullivan”.

Bill Slattery. Photograph: John Mangan.

On the challenges facing Bill Slattery, the Fine Gael member said, “Bill is running a very strong campaign to regain his seat which he lost but his biggest challenge is having two sitting councillors in his own village, a lot of young people are going to vote for Liam Grant because he is very active on social media while Shane Talty has a huge family base which makes him more likely to pull votes than anyone in Inagh and Miltown Malbay, it really is extraordinary there is no candidate in Miltown which is a big help to Shane, for him to be in trouble he needs to go from 1,900 votes to 1,200 votes and that is unlikely to happen”.

Fine Gael expect Slattery will get a higher first preference than the 1,303 he received last time round but they expect a fierce battle between him, Cllr Grant and O’Sullivan. “Sinn Féin cannot be on 23 percent in the polls nationally and not come within winning a seat in North Clare. Noeleen Moran was not a million miles away in 2014, if the trend for or against Sinn Féin impacts the vote then Conor will have to be polling well. Liam Grant has that big social media presence, young people like him and he is escaping the wrath that most Greens are getting. The Sinn Féin vote is going to decide if Bill or Liam get in”.

Loughrey’s unknown presence is going to be a barrier to him making any dent while both Vaughan and O’Loughlin are viewed as having too much to do to compete with the sitting quartet.

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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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