*Sinn Féin supporters celebrate. Photograph: Joe Buckley

SINN Féin’s first councillor in the Ennis MD has promised to bring “a socialist republican brand of councillor” to the local authority.

Election on the eighth and final count of the local elections in the Ennis MD saw Cllr Tommy Guilfoyle (SF) double the representation of the party on Clare County Council where he joins Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF).

Increasing their voice on the local authority will benefit Sinn Féin, he maintained. “If you look at Donna’s track record over the last five years and you have been covering it, she has ideas and a proper way forward for the people of Co Clare. Donna would have had to always work with other parties to get a seconder to get her motion to the floor, we can now bring it to the Council Chamber and work with other councillors to bring it over the line. That will be a great step forward for us but we need to work hard as councillors to grow the Sinn Féin brand heading into a General Election and see where that goes”.

Guilfoyle polled 1,191 first preferences and was one of three Ennis councillors to get elected without reaching the quota, he was just three votes short. Pundits had tipped Tommy as a potential poll-topper but he was not surprised with the final outcome.

“You started that with your podcast and put the kibosh on me, it’s an old political tactic that makes people think ‘oh Tommy is flying it’ and they go back their own man or woman but ye didn’t get away with it because I was elected. I think some of your pundits mis-gauged it, anytime I met you on the street I said I wouldn’t top the poll but I was hopeful to do well,” he said.

Putting in a strong canvass was key, Tommy felt. “I love the enthusiasm that people thought we were pushing so hard for them on the canvass, it doesn’t guarantee you a seat but it is a great assistance, we’ve been canvassing since last August, we had Mary Lou flyers in August, we had my flyers in December and all the way there to the day before the ballot we kept it going, I’d like to say go raibh maith agat to everyone who voted for me, I hope and I know I will put it to good use”.

He said this vote will go towards someone willing to fight for the future of the county town. “I’m not a member of Save Ennis Town but I support what they are doing, I am a member of the Francis Street Alliance which is opposed to many of the projects proposed by Ennis 2040, I’m not opposed to development, there is massive development needed in the town of Ennis for Ennis to become the next Killarney, why aren’t we the next Killarney, Ennis should be the next Killarney. I haven’t been in the Council or the Government so I can’t say why Ennis isn’t like Killarney, a hub of tourism and the gateway to the Burren.

“We as councillors need to sit down and put together a tourism plan, a business plan and a plan to put more people in houses so we can turn Ennis into a thriving buzzing town,” he continued.

Historian Tomás MacConmara pointed out to Tommy that he was the first Sinn Féin councillor elected in Ennis. “It’s a historical step in the right direction for the party, as a Clarecastle man inside there I’ll be bringing a socialist republican brand of councillor to the Chamber, it will be a Clarecastle man standing up for Clarecastle, doing my best for the county town and let’s see where it goes”.

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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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