*Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF). Photograph: Joe Buckley

BUILD-UP to the local election could have been described as bruising at least, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) came out swinging on occasion in defence of a new vision for the county town and following the counting of votes she is still standing and even in a stronger position.

An increase of eight votes to her first preference saw Cllr Colleran Molloy poll 1,192 on the first count in the Ennis MD but for the second election in a row she was the fourth of the seven councillors returned.

Her support for Ennis 2040 has been unwavering, aspects of the spatial and economic strategy are contentious to say the least among the business community of the town. She along with Cllr Mary Howard (FG) and Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) are in favour of all aspects of Ennis 2040, despite the criticism from the business community and other groups, all three recorded an increase in their first preference vote.

Reflecting on the campaign, Clare said, “It was always competitive, it’s not a sport but it is like a blood sport arguably with all the blood, you can’t do this without a lot of people helping, I’ve to give huge kudos to my manager Mary Naughton Foley, all of my family, my husband, the love and support was enormous.

“There was a lot of time when you wonder why are you doing this because there was a lot of acrimony along the way but we never felt it at the door and we were on the campaign trail for three months and one week, the people were receptive to the message and it is very clear coming out from the whole County Council it is a very positive message for good representation,” she added.

Dominant issues were repeatedly brought up at the door, she reflected. “The main issue that came up on the door was young people working and not being able to afford their own homes, that is actually the biggest issue, the next one is we need the model three hospital in Co Clare, hopefully it will be in Ennis and it makes sense to have it in Ennis, that is a central location for all the county to get the healthcare that they need”.

During The Clare Echo’s election debate, her comment that persons attached to Save Ennis Town (SET) were “bananas” led to it becoming the buzz word of SET. In the week leading up to the election, banana skins were placed on some of Clare’s posters, a picture of which was shared online by John O’Connor from the Retailers of Ennis Group received a strong backlash and was described by Colleran Molloy as “distasteful”.

However it didn’t impact on the Quin native. “I have fabulous people with me so it doesn’t bother me at all, people do these things for whatever reasons they have but it doesn’t affect me at all, I have huge support and it came through in the ballot paper”.

In what was a brave but bold move, Clare’s election slogans were branded ‘Love Ennis Town’. She remarked, “I love Ennis Town, I love it, for God sake everybody knows myself and Tony are going to be here for the rest of our lives, we’re fixing up the old derelict house at number one Clonroad and we can’t wait to be walking up the town in twenty years time as eighty year olds in a vibrant beautiful town and that is what will happen”.

By focusing on the campaign, Clare didn’t get to properly mark her sixtieth birthday in April but she admitted to The Clare Echo that another milestone was missed. “I’ll tell you another thing, I didn’t get to celebrate my sixtieth but myself and Tony forgot our nineteenth wedding anniversary, we had to be reminded about it a day after by a friend who said ‘happy anniversary’ and I said ‘what are you talking about’. When you are involved in a campaign like this, it is all consuming, it is like you put on the blinkers and you have all these people helping you, you keep going forward to meet as many people on the doorstep as possible, that is exactly what we did.

“We knocked on close to 9,000 doors. I was asked by Patrick Bourke of Patrick Bourke’s Menswear, what do you think the percentage engagement was at the doors, how many doors opened and I’m guessing about sixty percent, that is 6,000 doors which is a lot of engagement and it takes a lot of effort to get those votes in, then you have competition which is natural because it is democracy. One of the first weeks at the doors was up at Kilnamona, this man said ‘thank you for coming asking for the vote’, it reminded me of the fragility of democracy and how quickly it could be undermined, there was another comment which came to mind which I don’t think was meant offensively but it could have been taken offensively if you were not older like I am, ‘it must be awful for you to be going out begging for votes’, I said I don’t look at it that way at all, it is an ask for me asking the voter to be part of our democracy, that resonated with me too. It is a hard fight and if you love it then you do it, I do love the work,” she added.

According to the Ballybeg resident, the new make-up of the Ennis MD is “fabulous”. She outlined, “If you think about it and you cover all the Municipal Districts, now you have another woman on the team with me which is really positive and a new man in Tommy, I think we can work very well together, I really do”. She continued, “I hope to be positive, progressive and ambitious, we must be ambitious for ourselves”.

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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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