They’re late out of the traps but Sinn Féin are determined to make up for lost ground.
Such is the feeling at lunchtime on Tuesday as Violet-Anne Wynne prepared to head off on her first canvass of the campaign anchored by Donna McGettigan who is to take a place on Clare County Council in the near future.
Shannon is the starting point for the campaign and it comes of no surprise given it is the only local electoral area that has elected someone from the party to Clare County Council since the 1970s. A pensioner tells the team as they begin that he can sense change and that he expected younger voters to benefit parties such as Sinn Féin, “there has been an increase in youth membership,” Violet-Anne acknowledged which helps to strengthen his theory.
Violet-Anne has little to say at the next stop as another elderly man is certain that he will be backing the Mary Lou McDonald led party come February 8th. A man in his forties is unsure as to who will be getting his first preference but is adamant “It won’t be Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael,” and that the Universal Social Charge needs to be scrapped.
Health is brought up as the main factor by a woman in her sixties, “The state of our health system is a disgrace, it is awful to be getting old”. She spent four nights in hospital in recent months and described the experience as “frightening”. Her memories of Ennis General Hospital are positive with Wynne in agreement, “It is more person centred” and she outlined they are seeking more beds for the hospital.
Pathways and lack of maintenance of green areas are highlighted, “The Council are useless,” one woman claimed. “No money is what we hear the whole time,” Violet-Anne said. Grass cutting contractors were an item local election candidates in the Shannon Municipal District “got in the neck” one councillor told The Clare Echo and the people of Shannon haven’t forgotten the condition of their town just yet.
One door has a sign which read, “If you’re canvassing for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, you can jog on. We have a conscience in this house. Also Labour, you can jog on too. We haven’t forgotten how you screwed us over either. All parties not wanted”. It doesn’t deter the Kilrush woman who takes the risk and knocks on the door, a young woman answers and confirms the sign was put up by her partner, she is happy to accept the leaflet and one can assume it is one of the few that have made it in the door of this house.
“This is one leaflet I’ll keep”, a woman in her sixties stated. She questioned the lack of Sinn Féin posters and was asked by friends if the party was running anyone, she is happy to meet Violet-Anne and assures her of a number one vote. Prior to the school-run she was watching the previous night’s leaders debate chaired by Claire Byrne, “I have the debate on pause, Mary Lou is doing well”.
Although she can press pause, there is no time to waste for Sinn Féin in Clare given the length of time it took for them to have a name on the ballot paper. It’s a race against time for Violet-Anne Wynne but she will enjoy the campaign nonetheless.