*Joe Floyd. Photograph: Gary Collins

TULLA’s Joe Floyd (IND) has entered the local election race as one of the late additions to the ballot paper in East Clare.

An independent candidate in 2019, Floyd announced his candidacy in an exclusive interview for the Killaloe Muncipal District with The Clare Echo where he hit out at the amount of expenses claimed by elected representatives in the county and financial management within the local authority.

He has also called for the paying of elected members of the Council to be stopped until the €10m loan drawn down to set up Ennis 2040 DAC is repaid to the local authority. Of this figure, €2.2m has been spent to date.

“I think there’s too much false information out there, they (politicians) are not telling the truth to the people. Councillors have avoided the doors, the first one went out and then they were getting it on the neck, one of the TDs came out with them and then realised they were too busy,” he claimed.

Floyd said “there’s something wrong in the country” while pointing to the recent referendum on family as an example of this.

On average, county councillors earned €818 per week according to the Register of Councillor Expenses for 2023, figures he described as “scandalous”. “Our councillors are a disgrace, I don’t care if some of them are my friends, I’ve no enemies, it is an absolute disgrace to be getting that kind of money when people are struggling. These are farmers, contractors, two of them are involved in big businesses in my area. They have several irons in the fire that money is been made out of, they have no shame. I have no regrets about going on print and saying that”.

Sixty nine year old Joe promised, “I’m going to go after them, I think it is scandalous that anyone can put their hand out for the type of money when they are just driving from village to village and they are not at meetings all the time”. He added, “I wouldn’t take €800 a week in expenses, I’d take money for petrol or diesel but my morales wouldn’t allow me to take that much money from the taxpayers”.

He questioned the benefit of councillors travelling abroad for the Milwaukee Festival and for St Patrick’s Day. “RTÉ aren’t the only crowd with a fund that should be investigated, the Council have a discretionary fund and Clare GAA have one. It is a disgrace when you think of what RTÉ have spent, €5m was spent on new hurling field, another 100k spent on it again ripping the field and repairing it, where is all this going to end with people suffering,” the Tulla man claimed.

Similar criticism was voiced of the General Municipal Allocation (GMA) which is the discretionary funding which is made available to Municipal District members contained in the draft budgetary plan.

People in East Clare are “gone cracked” to have discovered councillors are earning €800 per week on expenses. “How can they justify it, I’ll go after the Council to put all these expenses, you have to put them out in the public for what you are doing, where you got them and what you did to get them. I don’t agree with the GMA at all, I think it is a very dangerous fund, it is gathering votes for the councillors, it is bribery”. He said he would have told Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) to “shut up” for questioning Cllr Ann Norton (IND) and a conflict of interest of funds going to the Clare Crusaders Clinic. “If I could draw the expenses I’d divide it between charities, are these people real at all,” he stated.

Ennis 2040 DAC was also a source of frustration for Joe. “€10m was given by Clare County Council to the crowd in Ennis who have no collateral or back-up. The councillors wages and their expenses should be stopped until the €10m is put back”. He continued, “The Council handed out €10m to an organisation without no collateral, I’m not against anything but they have to be highlighted”.

There is an imbalance in funds from the Council going to Ennis and the rest of the county, he argued. “They’ll have five trucks with men being paid to sew flowers in the town of Ennis, they are paying €200,000 in the town of Ennis and us getting nothing”.

Scariff’s successful application in securing €8m in funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development was also slammed by the Tulla man. “What are they doing with €8m, do the people not realise by the time it leaves the Council offices it will be €4m because of the people they have to pay for surveying and everything else”.

For 29 years, he was a road worker with the Council. “I’d get a budget to do a road for big jobs, by the time I got a budget to do a road in Killanena and Kilkishen, I was down well under three quarters to do the job between engineers and everything else”.

His time as an employee with the Council ended in dramatic fashion. The father of four was involved in a dramatic standoff with the local authority in May 2010 when he locked himself inside a van in Feakle with a lighter and petrol in protest against the Council’s hiring of outside contractors. Following his subsequent dismissal, he took a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal where he was awarded €30,000.

In 2019, he received 531 first preference votes and was eliminated on the third count. On what he has done within East Clare since, Joe stated, “I still continue to bring my park (O’Reilly Park) up to the top scratch every year, if you read the Tidy Towns report we have been mentioned every year for scoring a few points for the town, I concentrate on lower main street, around the pound and in the park”.

He maintained his criticism of elected representatives in the run-up to the last election led to improvement works in estates in Scariff and Tulla. “After the election the whole platter of work started because they suddenly realised somebody would be there”.

While it had been understood that Joe would be backing Matt Moroney (II) he said he was “absolutely disappointed” there are no candidates from Clooney or Quin in the race. “Quin is renowned for community work, Clooney has a group of women and young people that have the place tidied up, I can’t understand why these places haven’t someone forward, a whole host of Mid Clare and East Clare is left with nobody”.

According to Joe, Sinn Féin won’t elect a candidate in East Clare. “The lady for Sinn Féin in Crusheen won’t make it. I can’t see her making it, my natural home is republican but I wouldn’t have anything to do with Sinn Féin, it is the row they have fought but it is the type of people they have in their organisation”. He claimed “genuine republicans won’t canvass for Sinn Féin, they have gone off the thing” and added criticism for how the party treated Violet Anne Wynne (IND) prior to her resignation from Sinn Féin.

With less than a month until polling day on June 7th, Joe maintained he was not leaving it too late by entering the race. He said he has gained support in Scariff, Mountshannon, Broadford, Clooney, Quin and his native Tulla and expects to have a crew of forty to forty five people willing to canvass for him.

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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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