*Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) pictured at his home in Ennis. Photograph: Tom Micks

FINE GAEL have been left “completely shocked” with the decision of Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) not to contest the local elections in June.

On Tuesday morning, Cllr Flynn contacted senior officials in the Clare branch of Fine Gael to inform them he was withdrawing his name from the ballot paper.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Cllr Flynn stated, “They were very supportive of my decision, they were disappointed and would have liked me to have continued but they understand it is for personal reasons. I let party HQ know I was going through this process, I got a phone call on Friday or Saturday from someone involved in the campaign and I let them know that I had made a decision. I rang all my colleagues in the Ennis MD over the weekend, to thank them for working with me and wishing them well, they all said ‘you won’t go away’”.

Senior party sources told The Clare Echo the decision was “a complete shock” and that it “came out of the blue”. Party members said the Ennis man was one of Fine Gael’s “strongest candidates” in Clare.

The Clare Echo understands that Fine Gael have not yet moved to organise a selection convention to add an alternative candidate and are instead going to plead with the two-time Mayor of the Ennis MD to change his mind.

Flynn’s departure opens the door for an individual connected to Save Ennis Town or local business groups to come forward as an independent candidate to capitalise on the momentum of the silent protest march and opposition to Ennis 2040.

Save Ennis Town have never discussed running a candidate in the local elections, Cllr Flynn outlined while stressing it was a voluntary non-political grouping. “They may very well decide that but it has never been an option that has been considered”.

Chairman of Save Ennis Town, Gearoid Mannion told The Clare Echo they have not discussed the idea of running a local election candidate.

Two candidates, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) and Brigid Ginnity (GP) are currently connected to Save Ennis Town.

When asked who he will now be rowing in behind for the local elections, Cllr Flynn commented, “I certainly won’t be negative canvassing, that is not good for democracy. I would hope when somebody knocks on their door that people will be informed and be asking local questions.

“What I found very interesting is I’ve been out canvassing at national level and I’ve seen the debate at the door being about local issues like a pothole or a light not working and I’ve seen local elections where people are revved up on national issues, it would be great if people became more informed of what the role of local government is and what we are and are not responsible for, if people inform themselves and ask the candidates at the door what they stand for on various issues that people are concerned about like migration, health and other serious issues but local government hasn’t any influence on those. I’ve been amazed that before a local election when I’m knocking on a door and willing to discuss local issues that I’m met with people revved up on national issues”.

Cllr Flynn has also ruled out the prospect of running in a General Election. “I was approached a number of times at a national level to consider it but local politics is tough enough and it takes a lot of time, I wouldn’t like to have. We had four children under the age of six at one stage, Catherine my wife was very busy in the pharmacy and I was busy as well, it was flattering but it wasn’t really feasible”.

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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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