*Tony Mulcahy. Photograph: John Mangan

CHANGE is inevitable in the Shannon Municipal District with at least one new councillor guaranteed a spot around the table.

Long-serving duo Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) and Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) are bowing out of politics after forty nine and twenty five years respectively in local government paving the way for at least two new additions to the Shannon MD.

Sitting Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) will go before the people of her beloved Shannon for the first time, she contested the 2019 election but in the Ennis MD. The return to politics of ex Senator Tony Mulcahy (FG) following an eight year hiatus will also shake things up. Keith McNamara (IND) and Pat Barry (IND) both based in Shannon Town are less well known but will hope to be in the mix.

In situ since 1999 is Cllr John Crowe (FG), both he and Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) are expected to poll well with Cllr Michael Begley (IND) and Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) facing competition in South Clare from Val Gillane (FG), Rachel Hartigan (FF) and James Ryan (SF).

Battling to keep a Newmarket-on-Fergus voice on the local authority are David Griffin (FF), and John Haugh (AON) while Fursa Cavanagh (GP) has connections to the village through his mother Teresa Kilmartin.

According to Cllr McMahon, Mulcahy will take a seat to join the outgoing councillors while the final spot remains “totally unknown”. He said, “It looks like six are fairly easy to call, the seventh is absolutely totally unknown because there will be a new councillor, maybe there could be two new councillors but from that reasoning our present chairperson (Donna McGettigan) will top the poll and then you have PJ Ryan and John Crowe, Michael Begley, Pat O’Gorman have all worked hard and are well-known, the other one is completely open in my mind. David Griffin I would hope naturally gets in, people tell me there’s two Fianna Fáil quotas there and I’d be hoping that happens”.

Fianna Fáil are running three candidates this time round, they are spread out in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Cratloe and Westbury but given O’Gorman previously lost his seat and was co-opted to his current role, there is a fear it may be an area the party drops representation.

However McMahon maintained Cllr O’Gorman is a much stronger candidate than he has been previously. “He seems to be known more, he is well up on computers and modern communication. He was ahead of the posse in the computer scenario which has helped him a huge amount, he is meeting more people and doing more work for people, they are communicating to him more, there’s people down on the Limerick border that have said they’ve never seen a politician in their life. He has enough, he has a strong team locally, he was only barely beaten the last time but he was always involved in local organisations which is important, in that respect I’d say he is strong”.

Seats are up for grabs, Cllr Flynn stressed. He pointed out, “The current Sinn Féin councillor never ran in Shannon for the County Council elections, in fact in the last election she ran in Ennis and was unsuccessful. Unfortunately a very good colleague of mine who I served with on the Town Commissioners, the Town Council and the County Council, Mike McKee passed away, he was a person I had great respect for, Donna was co-opted and got nearly a full-term, she came in with no experience whatsoever but we all helped her the best we could and brought her along to make sure that she was relevant to the seat that she got because Mike was very experienced. This time, she has to go out and defend that seat”.

Flynn added, “It is a full-time job, there are people that are good on computers and Sinn Féin are very good at it, they are masters at social media and if you were only picking up an empty paper bag they are on screen, I don’t do social media because I’m too busy serving the community and doing real jobs. Pakie was mentioned there, the amount of times I’ve heard him say ‘I put it up on my Facebook page’, he is working full-time too, to be a relevant public representative on the ground they need to stop with their balony of Facebook and social media, keyboard warriors I call them and serve the people. With Pat and myself gone, it means there are two seats up for grabs, the five sitting councillors undoubtedly one would imagine they will be returned, as for Tony Mulcahy returning to the fold who knows, you couldn’t read it because that man has served in the Oireachtas, the Town Commission, the Town Council, County Council, I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes making a return because I’m leaving on my own terms after one of the highest contributors on the Council and one of the highest percentage of attendance”.

Elected councillors need to better serve their electorate by physically attending meetings, the Shannon Town representative argued. “Since COVID came in all this so called hybrid attendance being noted is an absolute joke, I know some people think it is fantastic but I’ve seen people tuning in when they’re in cars, out on holidays, that is not serving the people, we are of the generation where we honour the mandate we get from the public, we go into the Chamber, analyse and contribute where we need to on debates and do our best to support the people. As I said to you when you did that great interview, I know you were the only journalist in the county that could articulate in a fair minded way for councillors because your attendance at county council meetings as the fourth estate has to be admired and I’m not saying because I’m going out of politics, I don’t have to be saying it, the facts speak for themselves, Clare FM doing a certain amount, The Clare Champion I delivered it when I was a child back in West Clare, it is gone very watery and it doesn’t get to the pitch of politics, I think at times it does a disservice to the public out there that are buying that paper”.

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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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