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A directive from Fine Gael’s Executive Council has selected Cllr Gabriel Keating and Mike Taylor as the party’s candidates in the Kilrush electoral area for May’s local elections.

It had been speculated that there would be a contest between the two to secure a place on the party ticket up until Cllr Mary Howard who chaired Thursday’s selection convention announced the directive to Fine Gael members.

Chairperson of the Fine Gael Clare constituency, Sean Chambers welcomed party members to Cooraclare Community Hall. “Since 1993 when this magnificent building was opened there may have been many political meetings and debates down through the years but tonight will go down in the annals of history as the first Fine Gael meeting to take place here”.

Speaking from the floor, former TD Madeline Taylor Quinn wished to clarify comments published earlier in the week. “There was a situation in The Clare People which claimed Mike Taylor was a relative of mine, he is not connected to me by blood or any other way and it is important the members are aware of that before anything happens tonight, that was a misrepresentation on behalf of The Clare People”.

Doonbeg native, Joe Hurley proposed the nomination of Cllr Gabriel Keating. “Five years ago, I proposed Gabriel back in Spanish Point and he has lived up to all the promises I made on his behalf. He is a man of the people, he connects with them and supports them through and through”. Hurley added, “Gabriel can get what us we want whether it’s a road, a side road or a bog road whether it’s a bridge or a job for a young fella. He’s in with the people who matter in Ennis”. Liam Williams seconded the nomination.

Former Kilkee Town Mayor, Paddy Collins put forward Mike Taylor’s nomination. “It is very important for the future of Fine Gael that young people are brought in and encouraged, we won’t get a better young candidate than Michael”. He was seconded by Niamh Taylor, “Fine Gael is the party of opportunity and I’m asking you to give Michael the opportunity to be a new fresh voice for West Clare”.

Addressing the meeting, Cllr Keating spoke of the time it takes for a representative to build up relations within the Council and felt his connections had benefited West Clare. “Councillors don’t get much time to relax or watch television but I have a great love of dancing. I like watching Dancing With the Stars and after each dance an announcement is made that the votes are in, tonight the votes are here so cast them in my favour and allow me to continue the work. My slogan in 2014 was ‘the man who gets things done’, I believe I have made a difference”.

An active campaigner during the Marriage Equality referendum, Mike Taylor praised Keating’s role in attracting tourists to Loop Head and outlined his background within the Fine Gael party. “Lack of broadband is affecting businesses and our farmers, who get up early in the morning and never stop working, feel left behind”. “If selected tonight I give you my word that I will do each and everything in my power to bring back not one but two seats”.

Cllr Mary Howard then informed the convention that the directive from headquarters was to put forward two candidates. “It is important we have new blood coming into the party”, she said. “Madeline Taylor Quinn was a trail blazer for us all, my regret is that I’m the only female candidate on the Fine Gael ticket in Clare”.

Junior Minister, Pat Breen noted, “It is a while since we had a gathering like this in West Clare”. He pointed out the contrast between the two selected candidates, “Gabriel went up with a piece of paper and Mike went up with an iPad”. He said that “politics is a difficult life” when broaching the subject of why few young and female candidates had put themselves forward for the party and added, “we get fake news ourselves”.

“Rumour has it there was a vote so there’s a big turnout, it’s great to come into Cooraclare and see all the cars”, Deputy Joe Carey commented. “Your own record Gabriel in terms of Loop Head and maximising the Wild Atlantic Way to bring people to the Loop you have to be congratulated”, he said. He praised the “amazing courage” of twenty year old Taylor to put himself forward and was adamant Fine Gael “has to have the ambition” to increase its representation on the local authority.

According to Senator Martin Conway, Mike Taylor “has a surname that will attract votes and he has a character made of steel”. “I have no doubt of the commitment ye will show over the next 105 days. The local elections pose a great opportunity for Fine Gael to increase its representation on Clare County Council. Our objective is to become the largest party in the County Council”.

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