*Veronica Griffin looks on proudly as her son David Griffin is lifted in the air by Tommy and Eddie Griffin. Photograph: Joe Buckley. 

FIRST-TIME candidate, Cllr David Griffin (FF) delivered one of the performances of the election to top the poll in the Shannon Municipal District.

Elected on the first count with a vote of 1,534, David was beyond the quota and on his way to becoming a county councillor.

As was detailed by The Clare Echo on several occasions in the build-up to the local elections the success for Griffin was going to depend on the vote he received in the village of Newmarket-on-Fergus. Following the retirement of long-serving Pat McMahon (FF), Newmarket-on-Fergus certainly came out to back the new candidate where he obtained an estimated 694 votes.

David admitted to The Clare Echo he was “surprised” with the quantity of his vote. “My election hinged on nailing the village vote and I think we did that successfully, I was surprised with the level of vote I got, I was expecting to be in around the 1,100 to 1,200 to be on 1,534 is a huge achievement, the goal was to nail Newmarket-on-Fergus and spread the wings into Shannon and Sixmilebridge, we seem to have done that, we have a base to build on and it’s important for the party to be able to be strong in those areas. I’m delighted”.

He continued, “We’re the fifth largest parish in the county, the way the constituency is drawn it has divided us so it is always a challenge to keep a seat when you only have half the parish but I did put a lot of work into it, we’re on the road seven months which definitely helped, I got strong support from the party and from Pat McMahon himself who was in my corner which was an endorsement that helped me over the line, it is a multiple of factors but the most important thing is we’re not voiceless for the next five years”.

Selected as a Fianna Fáil candidate in November, the Newmarket-on-Fergus native admitted that several people in the parish would not have known him eight months ago. “When it is your first time it has to be planned. In certain parts of Newmarket-on-Fergus if you asked in November ‘do you know David Griffin’, the answer was no so we needed to put our shoulder to the wheel, the plan was to get multiple points of contact and use not just traditional door knocking which we did an awful lot of but also to do leaflets and keep the name going, I think social media definitely helped with name recognition as well, building name recognition was step one, widening the relationship pool was step two and driving it home was step three, it seems to have come off”.

With David (28) and Cllr Rachel Hartigan (FF) (22) elected in the Shannon MD, it dramatically reduces the average age of the elected representatives in the area. “What I was saying going around the doors is that not everybody can be 28, we do need the mix of youth and experience, if the numbers come off the way they are looking then we’ll have a very nice mix, we’ll have people there a long time including Mayors that know the system inside out but also fresh eyes, people communicating a little different and looking at things differently bringing the things from their own generation from housing to everything else, it is going to be a successful five years for the area”.

After receiving such a strong vote first-time out there is naturally speculation that the Council could be a stepping stone for an ambitious politician like Griffin. “Certainly not at the moment,” he replied when this suggestion was put to him. “I’ll get my foot under the table in Ennis first. We need strong representation in the Shannon MD, we’re going to have a very different Council to what we had the last time, I hope we’ll be able to drive a lot forward from sewerage to housing, there’s a plethora of issues we’ll be going through. There’s two strong Oireachtas members for Fianna Fáil in Clare at the moment, I don’t think they’re quaking in their boots just yet”.

Currently working as a political assistant to Senator Fiona O’Loughlin (FF), the Stonehall man said combining the roles will be “a challenge but I made a commitment when I was going around that I will prioritise the seat if elected, there is a lot of benefits to having access in the Seanad and a lot of things which can’t be done in a Council setting that you can have influence over, politics is not so much about what you know but who you know and being able to see around the corner, it is a huge asset for the area if we can do that but I won’t be focusing on that as my main priority”.

Working in Leinster House gives him a direct line to the persons in power. “It was a huge benefit to me throughout the campaign, I had an advantage with that access so if people were coming to me with passport issues I could ring Micheál Martin’s special advisor and put a word in for them, there were representations that went to sitting councillors that I was able to get done through the office and contacts I made, there is a huge benefit to it, some people might try spin it as a negative for political reasons but I see it as a positive, if you can keep the access you can keep the connectivity on the ground in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Shannon and Sixmilebridge, it is a huge benefit”.

Given this working role the tag of Junior TD or Junior Senator is one that could be adorned to his shoulders but he points out, “I’ll stick with Cllr for now because it was hard enough to get it”.

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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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