Tony O’Brien and Mike Enright. Photograph: Joe Buckley

A FORMER Minister for Defence and an ex Chairman of Clare GAA are among the names in the mix to contest the sitting Chairman of Clare Fianna Fáil for Monday’s AGM.

Hotel Woodstock will be the venue on Monday for the Annual General Meeting of the Fianna Fáil Clare Chomhairle Dáilcheantair. The existing officer board are in situ since 2016 with many of them set to be challenged for the various officer roles.

Party regulations state that a person who has served for four years continuously is not able to continue in the same post suggesting that the entire officer board will have to be replaced but Fianna Fáil has allowed the current officer board stay longer than this period.

Current Chairman, Mike Enright wishes to continue in the role but he is understood to be facing competition with sitting Vice Chairman Pat Considine, ex Clare TD, Tony Killeen and Jack Chaplin a former Chairman of Clare GAA among those also approached to allow their names forward.

Following her election to Clare County Council, Cllr Rita McInerney (FF) is expected to step down as the secretary of the party branch in Clare. Other outgoing officers include Michael McTigue (PRO), Aidan White and Gearoid Kennedy (Treasurers), Angela Coll (membership officer) while the post of women/equality officer has been vacant for up to five years.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, former Minister for Defence, Killeen admitted he was undecided if he would allow his name forward for the post of Chairman and that he was unlikely to make a decision until the AGM on Monday. “It is a matter for the organisation to choose who leads it into the next General Election”.

Tony Killeen. Photograph: Joe Buckley

A Clare TD from 1992 to 2011, Tony said, “I am flattered that people whom I respect who think that I could be a positive influence. “There may well be other people interested or who may do a better job, I’m committed to having the best outcome for the party in next General Election and a by-election if it is held. At this stage I’m not convinced that being Chairman is the best way to do that”.

When asked by The Clare Echo if he was seeking re-election as Chairman, Enright responded, “of course I am”. He added, “I don’t know exactly am I being challenged or pushed or forced out but I am looking forward to the challenge after a very successful local election which we gained a seat, we went from thirteen councillors to fourteen councillors and our officers put in a lot of work behind the scenes. We did lose a seat in West Clare which was unfortunate, I didn’t agree with the strategy in West Clare and neither did the Director of Elections or other members of the officer board but a decision was taken by headquarters and some persons locally to run four candidates and we paid a big price because there was three seats for us to win.

“We were unfortunate in the General Election in 2020 not to win two seats, it just didn’t happen, we went to win two seats, Timmy just lost out and Cathal got elected for the first time. For the local elections in 2019, we ran fourteen candidates and got thirteen elected, if we had a bit better vote management in North Clare we could have got all fourteen elected. I’m looking forward to leading Fianna Fáil into the General Election probably later in the year and hopefully we can win two seats,” the Newmarket-on-Fergus native added.

Members have criticised the lack of meetings held by the party during Enright’s tenure as Chairman. “I think you could have meetings every night of the week if you wanted to, meetings are irrelevant to getting councillors and TDs elected, you need the right strategies in place, we’ve been fierce lucky with our Director of Elections Gerry Reidy, secretary Rita McInerney, PRO Michael McTigue, treasurer Gearoid Kennedy and Aidan White and our vice chairman Pat Considine, our intention has always been to do the right thing”.

Pat Considine (centre). Photograph: Joe Buckley

Current Vice Chairman, Pat Considine told The Clare Echo he is considering his options. “Members have asked me to take over as Chairman and it is hard to say yes or no to them. Mike Enright has been a fantastic Chairman, it is a difficult one, I don’t know why people are ringing me to be honest”.

Considine who was campaign manager for Cllr McInerney’s poll topping performance in the Kilrush LEA admitted he is keen to stay on the officer board in some capacity. He has been Vice Chairman to Enright for the past eight years and the Kilmihil man has previously spent five years as Chairman of the Kilrush Cumann.

Jack Chaplin. Photograph: Natasha Barton

Jack Chaplin who served for one year as Chairman of Clare GAA and has been a loyal party activist has confirmed he has been nominated to serve as Chair of the Fianna Fáil branch in Clare. “I said I’d put my name in the hat”. The Cratloe cumann encouraged Chaplin to go forward and it has in the region of 21 members. He had been part of the canvassing team which helped to elect Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) at last month’s local elections.

Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) told The Clare Echo, “It is good that there is going to be an AGM and that new people come forward, new people coming forward is good. We’ve had a very successful reign under the current team, we had a very successful local election, the officer board have a very good track record, they have delivered record sales of draw tickets on an annual basis, Clare is among the most consistent in the country for sales on this draw, Gerry Reidy, Mike Enright, Rita McInerney, Michael McTigue and Gearoid Kennedy have worked really hard. The election result is very clear that the strategy with the exception of losing Cillian (Murphy) was very successful and increased by an extra seat, the outgoing officer board should be proud”.

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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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