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GE2020 THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Joseph Woulfe in Shannon

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There is very little engagement from the electorate as Joseph Woulfe canvassers the shoppers of Shannon on Saturday afternoon.

In the political sense, Shannon has always remained an enigma. The high amount of residents that are originally from Northern Ireland have led to a strong Sinn Féin vote in the town but few other trends are apparent other than poor turnout.

An attitude of disengagement is evident from people walking in and out of Sky Court Shopping Centre. The character in people walking past refusing to engage with the candidate vary from students to retired school principals.

A public meeting last year heard the anger from residents over promises by the Fine Gael led Government to fund The Venue. The tempers have cooled down but one would have assumed, now was the chance for the Shannon electorate to quiz candidates on what they could for their town.

No such queries were put to Joseph Woulfe, his emphasis of being an Independent candidate was well-received by those who took a moment to stop and take a leaflet. The amount of individuals that chose to ignore the Quilty farmer was approximately 15 percent of those approached.

“You can’t be worse than the crowd we have in”, “we’ll keep you in mind”, “we’ll look at you” and “Independent I like to hear that” are the positive comments sent in the direction of the 2019 local election candidate. Crucially though, the commitment of a first preference vote are not too common.

A man in his sixties is adamant, “Independents will get in. We’ve had enough of the current crowd. Young and old need to speak up”. He appears to be in favour of giving new voices like Joseph Woulfe a chance.

Standing as ‘a lone wolf’, Joseph is on his own for this canvass having come from the mart in Sixmilebridge where he engaged with thirty people and placed leaflets on every car in the proximity.

He has taken inspiration from Dr Michael Harty utilising doctors to back his ‘no doctor no village’ campaign in 2016 and Woulfe admitted he has the majority of barbers in the county on his side. The difference being that they are not out canvassing in every village.

“Have you any interest in reopening our hospital”, a lady in her fifties asks Joseph. Her mother spent three days on a trolley. “We have to have an A&E that can serve people. University Hospital Limerick cannot cope with the current demand,” he responded. He later told The Clare Echo a compromise will have to be found and suggested an extension of opening hours at Ennis General Hospital to midnight to offer more hope to the people of Clare.

Issues are not forced on the public by the farmer who has had to temporarily step down as Chairman of the Beef Plan Movement for the duration of the campaign. Instead, Joseph is giving the people the chance to decide for themselves.

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, and 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 -

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