*Cillian Murphy analyses the tally with Patrick Keane. Photograph: Joe Buckley

FIANNA FÁIL’s chances to hold a majority on Clare County Council slipped through their fingers but they also managed to see one of their top-performing councillors in the guise of Cillian Murphy (FF) lose out on his bid for re-election.

Although Fianna Fáil gained an extra seat overall on the County Council with wins in the Ennis MD and Shannon MD, the party is down a representative in West Clare following the defeat for Murphy who was eliminated on the eighth count in the Kilrush LEA.

A drop in Murphy’s vote from 1,100 in 2019 to 1,011 in 2024 saw him become the seventh of the thirteen candidates to bow out. Just six votes separated him from party colleague Alan Troy (FF) at the time of his elimination which prompted him to seek a recount but this did not alter the result.

Gerry Reidy, Fianna Fáil’s Director of Elections told The Clare Echo’s political podcast that it was a mistake for the party to run four candidates in the Kilrush LEA. “You’d have to look at that again because that strategy didn’t serve us, the circumstances that it arose in, it just developed that the four people were proposed just went straight through. At this stage you would have to say it was an error to do that. In Ennis we ran four but it worked, they were really motivated here but back in the West we didn’t have the capacity to do that and that was a decision made by the constituency committee”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo on Sunday after losing his seat, Cillian said party management need to be held accountable for the loss in representation for Fianna Fáil in West Clare. “I had a different campaign in 2019 because I was parachuted in as a candidate and it was hot and heavy for eight or nine weeks, the party completely rowed in behind me, it was either get me across the line or lose a councillor’s seat for the party so now here we are and the irony is that they are down a seat in the electoral area. I worked hard, I think myself I’ve been proud with the way I worked and I think it is reflected with the party, the people see a high quality, articulate and well-spoken councillor for Fianna Fáil and it lifts all our boats, I’m out the door now”.

“To be fair I got great support as a new candidate the last time and the new candidates this time got great support which is fine. I was left a little to fly my own aeroplane with a very small team, Cathal Crowe and his family gave me great support, Pat Keane, Paddy Hurst, I had guys that did a great job as a small team but I think if you were to be critical and analyse it we’ve lost a seat, that is down to party management that we’ve lost the seat”.

Pat Keane who served as Mayor of Clare described Cillian as “one of the best county councillors in Ireland” when speaking to The Clare Echo prior to Murphy’s elimination. “I’m sure the people of West Clare will wake up tomorrow morning and be very upset at the fact that they’ve lost a councillor of the calibre that Pat Keane refers to me as, I’m not one for slapping my back, it’s not how I do my business, if Pat says and my messages have lit up on the phone so I think there is a lot of people who feel the same way then that’s on the party in a way,” Cillian reflected.

He continued, “At a local level I think we’ve missed the ball, we had three sitting councillors and we shouldn’t have lost one. Ultimately that comes down to management, Clare lost a hurling match today too and ultimately it comes down to management, you send your team out they can only do what they do but if they are not providing with some of the skills and management well then we end up losing and we’ve lost today. We were on the cusp as a party of having a majority in the Chamber, we don’t know and that is down to a management issue, there’s local, there is ultra-local, there’s county and then there is national but ultimately it is a management issue”.

“I’ve loved working for my community, I’ve been a community activist for a long time, I don’t see myself doing anything different, I will be taking the pressure off because I can’t but, I need to go out and find a job and make a living for myself as well, there is going to be a consequence to that but I won’t rule anything out, there’s a lot that happens in five years and in five years I’ll be 62 so I don’t know if I’ll have the appetite for a canvass and I need to process this”.

Regarded by elected colleagues and staff of the Council as one of the top performers in the last term, Cillian’s performance was not reflected when it came to the vote and lack of transfers he received. “We had a lot of people picking each other’s pockets and again we’re back to management so could things have been different, of course and then there’s the wildcards Dinny has a phenomenal job done, is that something people could have seen six weeks or three months ago or six months ago no, no more so than I’d have been very involved with the community in Doonbeg, when Rita runs their allegiance is to move so a lot of work I’d have done transfers to Rita but that is the way of the world and I don’t get stuck in those stuff, I love being a councillor and working with the staff, I love the problem solving of it and the fact that you can actually deliver real tangible stuff at a ground level for the community, I’m sorry to be going but that’s the will of the people”.

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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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