*Seamus Ryan (LAB). 

CONTESTING a local election for the third time, Seamus Ryan (LAB) is hoping it is a case of third time lucky.

Labour had been expected to hold a selection convention to choose their candidate in the Ennis Municipal District after two other prospective candidates had declared an interest but “their personal circumstances mitigated against that” meaning former librarian Seamus was the only nominee, he said, “it was their decision not to go forward”.

Aged forty, Seamus admitted it is “very disappointing that at forty I’m one of the youngest candidates in the Ennis Municipal District”. He outlined, “life is a spectrum for all of us, people with young families and children, they are not always represented in their attitudes by councillors who are in the second half of their careers and that is no disrespect to them”.

Currently working with Forsa as a trade union organiser, he is primarily working with SNA’s, school secretaries and caretakers on a national level but predominantly in Connacht.

On his decision to enter the election race, Seamus told The Clare Echo, “there was a couple of factors, I looked at it and said to myself there is a need for people running for the Council of a newer generation to what is there”.

Ennis 2040 is a big issue among the electorate in the Ennis MD and Seamus admitted this was also a factor for throwing his name into the ring. “I don’t like the lack of democracy around Ennis 2040 and the issues around the Post Office Field, it is a nature preserve that is being peace meal destroyed”.

Another talking point among the electorate is housing, he said. “Housing is a big issue, we need people that will hold the Government parties to account, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael continue to represent the majority of councillors and they have been the Government of the day for ten years plus and nothing has changed”.

In 2019, he polled 495 first preference votes, 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.

Arguably his profile since his last run for office has not been as prominent as when he was based in the county from 2014 to 2019. “Since 2019 I started my new job which took me away from Clare during COVID”. On returning to the county, he said, “I felt it was time to refocus on the concerns of the people of Clare and the Ennis MD”. During the pandemic, he also stepped down as Chairperson of Labour’s branch in Clare.

Political retirements of both Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) and Cllr Ann Norton (IND) will lead to “seismic change” on the make-up of the elected representatives “It is a case of everytime I’ve put myself forward there has been an increase in my first preference vote. There’s seismic change with the retirement of two prominent councillors which opens up the space for somebody new to come forward and be elected”.

Following the 2019 local elections, Ryan called for “significant change” within the Labour ranks, at the time they were led by Brendan Howlin TD (LAB), in the interval Alan Kelly TD (LAB) who canvassed for Seamus had a brief stint as leader with Ivana Bacik (LAB) now leading the Labour party. “Labour is still a party that has a very deep tradition of social democracy, we have a consistent set of principles on housing and the right of minorities, no matter who has been leader, they have been core elements of what we stand for”.

He said he has “high regard” for both Deputy Kelly and Deputy Bacik, “they are two very different personalities and I’ve great respect for them”.

There has been no Labour representative on Clare County Council for a decade. On how strong a campaign the party can launch in Clare, he said, “We’re running two candidates in Clare, people will canvass for Denis (Vaughan) and for me, people will canvass between the two, we’re not a one man operation, we do have the people on the ground to try bring about credible change”.

This week, Seamus had started circulating his election literature across the Ennis MD. There had been a slight distraction with the recent wedding of his sister who returned from Australia to tie the knot.

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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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