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Labour needs ‘significant change’ – Seamus Ryan

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“Significant change is needed” in the Labour Party according to the only candidate they ran in Clare for the local elections.

Librarian Seamus Ryan polled 495 first preference votes in the Ennis Municipal District, up 266 on his showing in 2014. Though it was an improvement, it was not enough to see him survive past the fourth count, falling behind the seven elected councillors and three Independents but doing enough to stay in front of Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats.

“Any result that sees me outside the seven elected councillors is one I wouldn’t be happy with but look I’m very pleased that people put such confidence and faith in me, it was unfortunate at this time that the prevailing winds didn’t bring me in the right direction but what can you do, that’s democracy,” he told The Clare Echo following his elimination.

Nationally, Labour gained six seats in the local elections but Seamus maintained change is needed with younger voters tending to identify more with The Social Democrats who in their first local elections won 19 seats and the Greens who added thirty seven councillors. Noticeably, Tipperary TD Alan Kelly canvassed with Ryan during the campaign while party leader Brendan Howlin did not.

“What we’re seeing is there is a significant change needed in Labour, there needs to be a different philosophy of the party. What we’re really seeing is that younger voters are moving towards the idea of green politics and that the planet needs to be saved. We’ve seen that significantly across Ireland and in Co Clare. I think it’s important that there is a reflection in the party from all levels, from the very top down to the bottom where people like me are waiting”.

On whether he felt members who traditionally would have aligned with Labour have left for parties such as The Social Democrats as Betty Walsh has done, the Moy native stated, “Betty Walsh left the Labour Party many years ago having failed to achieve a selection at convention herself ten years ago at the very least, that’s not a reflection of the Labour Party and that was in Limerick which has seen success in the local election”.

With two unsuccessful bids for a seat on the Council, Seamus is confident his time will come in local politics. “Who knows about these things, I want to take a rest for a fortnight or so and we’ll see what happens after that. At 35 I’m what you might call you in elected politics particularly in our county when we saw one man elected for the ninth time. I hold out hope eternal for the future, I might take solace from someone like Catherine Murphy ironically of the Social Democrats who ran at least four to five times before becoming elected Leixlip Town Commission in Kildare”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native, Páraic McMahon is a freelance journalist and broadcaster currently working for numerous national and local publications including The Clare Echo, The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent, The Irish Times, RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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