*Cllr Joe Garrihy, Bill Slattery, Madeline Taylor-Quinn and Ciaran Cannon TD.
FINE GAEL have opted to keep the same ticket in North Clare for the local elections which saw them lose a sitting councillor and elect a first-time candidate in 2019.
At Thursday’s selection convention at The Falls Hotel, the directive from party headquarters to choose two candidates was confirmed and with just Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) and Bill Slattery nominated it meant there was no vote required and the duo were automatically put forward. 2009 was the last time Fine Gael successfully elected two candidates in Ennistymon when both Conway and Joe Arkins (FG) prevailed, the duo were also elected in the same area for 2004.
It is the second convention held by Fine Gael for the 2024 local elections which take place next June and again there has been no vote with the Ennis Municipal District trio of Cllr Mary Howard (FG), Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) and Cllr Paul Murphy (FG) going unchallenged to be the party’s representatives.
Chaired by Galway-East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG), the selection convention for the Ennistymon local electoral area was a straight-forward affair with just the two nominees. Former Clare TD, Madeline Taylor-Quinn (FG) was also among those present, the first Fine Gael Mayor of Clare currently serves as the Chairperson of the party’s branch in Co Clare.
Lahinch’s Slattery was the only sitting councillor to lose their seat at the 2019 local elections. He has been involved with Fine Gael since 1978, he was co-opted to Clare County Council in 2011 with Martin Conway’s (FG) election to the Seanad and successfully retained his seat in 2014 with 1,769 first preference votes.
Since his departure from the Council, Bill has joined the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC) where he flagged incidents such as pubs in Lahinch refusing access to stag parties and seeking greater resources in the busy coastal spot. He sits on the JPC as the Lahinch Development Association representative.
News of Slattery’s bid to return to politics was first reported by The Clare Echo and in the intervening two weeks, he has intensified his bid including securing a spot on Clare FM’s Morning Focus to hit out at anti-social behaviour in Lahinch and the abuse of car-parking spaces by campervans along the promenade.
There was rancour within Fine Gael following Slattery’s 2019 defeat. Relations between him and Senator Conway have not recovered with the Lahinch man blaming Senator Conway for adding Garrihy to the ticket and thus impacting on his vote, “I wouldn’t say I was defeated but ousted by certain members of my own organisation,” he memorably stated at the time.
Garrihy who first joined Fine Gael in advance of the 2019 local elections will be bidding to retain his seat for the first time. The Lisdoonvarna native has as Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District in his tenture.
He has also been vocal on the need for supports to be in place so that towns and villages in the area can be sustainable for future generations and to ensure all areas of North Clare benefit from the increasing popularity of the Cliffs of Moher.
Formerly General Manager of Lahinch Seaworld, Joe has been successful prior to entering politics of securing a long list of grants for various groups in the Burren and Lahinch, his knack of being able to look in the right places for answers has been tested in the local authority.
Joe returned to live in Co Clare in 1995 having resided in Dublin and Chicago prior to this. A former goalkeeper for his county in gaelic football and soccer, his eldest son Michael is currently lining out in goals for the Jacksonville Armada FC team. His native Lisdoonvarna has seen a near fourfold increase in its population since the outbreak of war in Ukraine over a year ago with Joe one of the community’s leading figures with Lisdoonvarna Fáilte.