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Conway braced for ‘biggest political test’

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*Martin Conway on the canvass in Ennis. Photograph: John Mangan

“A subtle change” from the electorate has given Senator Martin Conway (FG) a pep in his step that he can be elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt.

FACTFILE –

Occupation – Senator
Family – Married to Brid. One brother.
DOB – 08/04/74
Schools/Colleges – Ennistymon CBS for primary and secondary, UCD
Political CV – Was involved in Young Fine Gael and student politics in UCD. Got Junior Chamber Young Person of the Year and UCD President’s Award for Excellence. Elected member of Clare County Council 2002-2011.
Top 3 priorities – Justice, Disabilities, Rural Ireland
Something the electorate don’t know about you – I have gone surfing.

An elected representative since 2002, Saturday is the first time Martin’s name will go before the entire county on the ballot paper. In 1999, he was eliminated on the third count in his first bid to win a seat on Clare County Council, he is confident history won’t repeat itself as he tries to become a TD.

“That was a completely different scenario, I was 24 years of age at that stage, I almost got elected which was the shock of that election. I had come from nowhere and was within fifty votes of winning a seat, I’m confident enough that won’t happen this time, I’m getting a fantastic response at the doors and I think people want to see change. People have got to know me over the years, the people of North Clare have known me very well and have endorsed me, the rest of the county has got to know me through engaging with my office, we’ve done a significant amount of work with people on a one to one basis, coupled with that people have got to know me, my style and my story, they have very much warmed to me”.

On why individuals keen to see change would still vote for a Fine Gael candidate, he explained, “When people want change it’s a subtle change, they want to see a change in personnel in Dáil Éireann from Co Clare. Each ballot paper in each constituency is different, it is made up of personnel and people from within the political party structure and beyond. People vote for change within the parties as well as in other areas, I certainly think I’m going to benefit from an appetite from change, Fine Gael with the candidates we have are offering people the option of change if they so wish”.

Last May, the Ennistymon man came under fire from Bill Slattery who lost his seat on Clare County Council and maintained Conway was one of the main reasons for this. When asked by The Clare Echo, what impact this level of ill-feeling towards him and the introduction of Roisin Garvey would have in the General Election, he stated “none I would think”. He confirmed that he had not asked Mr Slattery to canvass for him in Lahinch.

“I have been out and about engaging with the people, obviously people are interested in the Green agenda, I’ve been an advocate of it for some time, I produced a booklet ‘A Greener You’ which we distributed throughout the county this time last year, it got a very positive response, Green issues will be resolved when they become mainstream and I think the Green agenda is mainstream now. Fine Gael have developed a strategy in terms of climate change, certainly that is resonating with people, difficult decisions in terms of the environment have to be made going forward, it is incumbent on all parties to adopt a Green agenda”.

Conway concluded, “Without a shadow of a doubt this is my biggest political test. It is the biggest challenge of my political career, I have stood in five elections and I’ve won the last four, if I win this it will be my fifth in a row”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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