*Joseph Woulfe. Photograph: John Mangan

JOSEPH WOULFE (IND) has confirmed he will be contesting the local elections in the Kilrush local electoral area as an Independent candidate.

Fixing the deteriorating road infrastructure has been flagged by Joe who said “some of the roads have potholes that are so big you could wash yourself in them, there’s some seriously big potholes that need to be tackled as soon as possible”.

Having contested the 2019 local election and 2020 General Election, the barber and farmer from Quilty is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky when he goes before the people of West Clare.

Indeed Woulfe’s showing in the 2019 local election almost saw him defeat the outgoing Cllr Ian Lynch (IND), he received more first preferences than Lynch but when it came to the sixth and final count he was behind both Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) and the Kilrush man neither of whom reached the quota of 1,530.

When it came to the 2020 General Election, he polled 1,218 first preferences and was eliminated on the fifth count with the bulk of his transfers assisting Michael McNamara TD (IND) and Violet Anne Wynne TD (IND) who was then flying under the Sinn Féin banner.

Before announcing his intention to run for the first time in an interview with The Clare Echo, Joseph had been canvassing on the quiet to gauge the temperature of the public in Seafield, Connolly, Inch and Kilmaley. “This time I went canvassing first to see what the vibe was, I didn’t make it public that I was running, I went canvassing and I met people in rural areas, people remembered me and wished me best of luck and said they would back me, from that standpoint I decided I’d go full steam with it. People are active early with this election, with the weather being so bad I haven’t been out as much”.

He added, “The last time I had only canvassed for four weeks, it was very short. I thought perhaps other people would run in the area, I didn’t feel confident that I’d make an impression but when I got going I felt the momentum and the growth”.

Over the past five years, he has featured occasionally in the media, particularly when it comes to farming matters but he said he has been paying a close eye on matters locally. “I’ve kept up with what is happening on the locality, funnily enough people think I was elected and often contact me on housing, roads and footpaths, I help them out if I can or I point them in the direction of the elected councillors. On the farming side of things, I’m still Chairman of the Beef Plan and I’m promoting increasing the income for farmers and improving their livelihood and future generations of the enterprise which is worth €300m to Clare”.

Momentum of the Beef Plan is not as strong as it was when he was last contesting an election “because the price of meat has gone up,” he explained. “Everyone doesn’t need a fireman unless you have a fire but in another sense. It is stronger in the producer group where we’re exporting to Algeria, we’ve traded 50,000 cattle through the producer group, it has got stronger for raising money for farmers in sales but weaker in getting the better price for cattle because the better price can be had”.

Unlike the 2019 local elections, Joe will face increased competition in the parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane with both Michael Shannon (FF) and Therese Doohan (FG) also in the running . “I can see Michael Shannon’s house from my place, he can see Therese Doohan’s from his place, that’s how close it is”. He said this was a repeat of the 2004 local elections when Shannon, Tim Donnellan (FG) and Christy Curtin (IND) were all in a similar radius.

Three Kilmurry Ibrickane candidates will have both a positive impact in terms of transfers but they will deprive votes off each other. “It will have an effect, in another respect it will pool votes in this location, when I ran the last time, PJ Kelly (FF) and Bill Chambers (FF) were two strong candidates near to me, the distance to me and the set of people that could vote for me was a further distance. I imagine I can get number two votes off them and vice versa, it will pool votes and I will be transfer friendly,” Joe surmised.

Although he acknowledged to being of a similar “mindset” to Independent Ireland, he said he did not make approaches to express an interest in representing them.

On the issues raised during his early canvass, Joe outlined, “One thing that has come up an awful lot is the hospital and a lot of people are worried about it, it’s not realty the job of a county councillor to be fixing the health system but it comes up a lot”. He continued, “The roads are a big issue, road flooding and the water can’t move with drainage options and it can’t move as quick as it’s coming down”.

Working in farm and retail has given Joe an appreciation of meeting and helping people. “The essence of my life has been meeting people, I work in service and retail industry, the buzz I get from this is meeting people and helping them out, working as a volunteer and farming representative is easy because I’ve always been doing it, you’re working with people and it suits me”.

Meanwhile, The Clare Echo understands that bookmaker Dinny Gould is weighing up his odds about running as an Independent candidate in the Kilrush local electoral area.

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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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