COUNCILLOR Mary Howard referred to politics as a “blood sport” as she reflected on being the first ever female to top the polls in Ennis on route to her election on Sunday morning.
Celebrations weren’t muted despite Mary knowing well in advance that her seat was safe: “I did [know] but the reality is that this game is a blood sport and you’re always thinking, ‘is the carpet going to be pulled out from under me?’. Being in the No 1 position – that was never [in my thoughts] – I just wanted to retain my seat because a woman has never headed the poll in Ennis, this is the first time it’s ever happened so I’m absolutely delighted it’s me.
Ms Howard (FG) told The Clare Echo, “Yesterday listening to the radio in the morning and getting reports from the girls that were here, I was in fourth position and I was delighted with that. Next thing I heard on the news at one o’clock that I’d topped the tally poll, I was overwhelmed, I just burst into tears. I was delighted and those people who voted for me, I won’t let them down. I will work very hard for the next five years.
“I have a great team behind me who really kept my spirits up, it’s tough going out there, knocking on doors day in day out and being in top form, but they kept me going, they really were great. They were so positive, and we had a lot of fun as well.”
Mary’s canvassing team wore yellow jackets at the count centre, and Mary was quick to credit her tight-knit team for keeping her spirits high throughout the canvass.
“We’re known as the pink gang when we go canvassing, I got a number of pink hi-vis vests a number of years ago when we were canvassing and I got a couple of blue ones [for the guys] but it transpired that they wanted the pink ones too, they wanted to be identified in the pink gang. When we came to the count yesterday, I was wearing yellow as it fits in with my literature and they said, sure we’ll all wear yellow. It was great, they wanted to strongly identify with me which is a real complement.”
*Photo by Martin Connolly / Clare Echo