*Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) celebrates his election. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ELECTED for a third time, Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) received his largest first preference vote and is now among the leading Fianna Fáil contenders to get a twelve month stint as Mayor of Clare during the upcoming Council term.

Given that he is entering his third term on the local authority, in terms of service given Cllr O’Callaghan is among the next in line Fianna Fáil councillors to serve as the county’s first citizen over the next five years.

In the last two term, two East Clare representatives Cllr Tony O’Brien (FF) and Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) had the honour of serving as Mayor of Clare. With the power-sharing arrangement expected to remain in place, it is possible that East Clare could have two more Mayors in the next term in the guise of Cllr O’Callaghan and Cllr Pat Burke (FG).

Speaking following his election to the Council, O’Callaghan confirmed he would be putting his name in the ring to don the mayoral chains. “When I went in back in 2014 I got Deputy Mayor which was an honour. I presume it will still be the same power sharing agreement so I will be in line and I’ll throw my hat into the ring”.

On Saturday, he was elected to the Killaloe Municipal District while on Sunday he turned forty eight making it a birthday weekend to remember.

This was also the first time he got over the quota to get elected with his 1,475 first preferences seeing him as the third candidate to get over the line. “It is something that we grew and grew all the time, when I ran in 2014 my first preference was about 791 but it was a six seater then, then in 2019 it went back to a five seater because we lost Clonlara at the time and my vote increased again to about 1,117 and now it has increased again”.

Key to this swelling vote was not having any competition from a candidate in Quin or Clooney. “I was lucky with the Quin area because there was no other candidate in the area. You have to get the votes locally. As five councillors we are very lucky that geographically we are not on top of each other and jostling for position. I always say as five councillors for the last five years that we all work really hard and that we should be returned”.

He added, “I’m thrilled, we kept it tight to our area where we felt the boxes were going to be most strongest to us, this is the first election that I had to manage it myself because I had a guy called Paschal Lenihan who died twelve months ago, he looked after my first two campaigns and was on the phone telling us where to go, telling us what to do. He was laid to rest and I know he is watching down tonight and he’d be proud that I got over the line”.

Teams behind the candidate are vital, he outlined. “Getting elected isn’t a one man or one woman operation, you need everyone behind you, you need your brothers, your family, your mother, the dog, the cat, anything, you need friends and to be able to connect, I had a couple of nephews this time who are eighteen, nineteen, twenty and twenty one now, they are in that age-group and are from different areas, they really got behind me, they canvassed, chased people and got them to register, they are involved in hurling and farming, they are in college and school, it takes all that but there is pressure and there’s pressure in the household because we’ve two small kids and you’ve to park everything for a run into the election, everyone is put on the back burner but I had a great team supporting me.

Another thing to grow has been O’Callaghan’s hair which he promised in an election video will be cut not long after the election has concluded. “There’s a great guy in Quin who gives me a hand canvassing, his wife is a hairdresser and I said we’ll leave the scissors till Tuesday or Wednesday, there will be some celebrating between now and then”.

This video was among the new ways in which Wiggy approached social media along with creating a Snapchat group with young voters. “I did a nice video recently that was made, I thought it was class, we got young lads to speak and they spoke genuinely. We even set up Snapchat groups, there would be a couple of hundred young lads and ladies in that, the craic we used to have in it, at eight o’clock someone rang the Snapchat and we were all on it live, it was just craic, it was lively and it is something that we as councillors need to be cognisant of that we don’t leave the youth behind us, we need to bring them on because if you haven’t youth in anything let it be sport or a drama group or politics it will die a death”.

He continued, “The thing about social media if you come on two or three months before election time it looks false, you have to be tipping away, it could be a video from the side of a road about a burst pipe or something going on, they are very natural and I just put out the phone, it only takes a minute or a minute and a half but it eases the pressure on people because they know there is a problem somewhere”.

“Social media is a fantasy, you can’t be relying on it but you have to be doing a little bit, you’d be surprised you is watching it, there is a lot of people who may not be giving the thumbs up or commenting but they are watching it, I see that. You have to do a bit but I do it as best I can in a light-hearted way, I like to add a bit of character,” the Kilmurry man said.

While one of his first promises was a free fill of diesel for a new van that is set to come into the ownership of Scariff Bay Community Radio, it may be a failed promise already seeing as it is tipped to be an electric vehicle. Development in communities is something he will hope to influence, “It is very important that we keep developing our towns and villages going forward, the big thing for me is the Shannon Heritage sites, they come with their challenges but we had a briefing recently enough and we were talking about an investment that was needed over the next ten to twelve years. They are historical castles, a bit of TLC and stuff, you’re talking about telephone figures when you’re dealing with heritage sites. It only takes a small thing to freshen a thing up and I feel we are going in the right direction”.

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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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