Politics and elections have always been in Martin O’Loghlen’s life but on May 24th it will be his name on the ballot paper instead of the many candidates he has helped get over the line.
As the current parliamentary assistant to Timmy Dooley and Director of Elections for the East Clare TD, Martin has orchestrated three successful election bids for Deputy Dooley and is now aiming to repeat the dose but for himself in the Ennistymon local electoral area.
While political parties in Clare have snapped up certain candidates in anticipation of the local election, O’Loghlen is Fianna Fáil to the core. “I’ve been a member of the party since I was knee high, it’s been in the family going way back to the grandfathers time, they were always involved for over a hundred years, the old guardians of the area before the Council was formed. There’s been a long of public service to the community of Clare not just North Clare”.
His grandfather is of course, former TD and Senator, Peter O’Loghlen who was a close personal friend of former Taoiseach and President, Eamon de Valera. The decision to run stems from his experience and a desire to extend the work he has been doing as parliamentary assistant to benefit the people of North Clare.
“For the last 13 nearly 14 years I have been delivering for people in the county on a whole range of issues from Deputy Dooley’s office working closely with Timmy. Many of those people would be based in North Clare, the feedback I was getting was ‘Martin why don’t you give a shot at the Council’ and I was always saying no that was I was up to my eyes and too busy but they kept at me and at this stage when councillors Nagle and Hillery retired, both of them have given sterling service to the party and the people of North Clare, somebody said now is the time to do it and that is where we’re at. We have two very good candidates Joe Killeen and Shane Talty, hopefully we can hold onto the vote in North Clare and maybe improve on it. In a way I’m already doing the work of a councillor everyday for the last 13 or 14 years, it is going to be a big battle for me”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, the Ballyvaughan native highlighted the key issues affecting his constituents. “Health is obviously critical, when you look at North Clare it’s obviously strong on tourism and that would be something I’d be very keen on we need to further invest in the tourism infrastructure of North Clare. Looking at the possibility of a primary care centre in North Clare, more affordable housing schemes in the county, we all heard of the huge homelessness figures and we all think the schemes announced were great but there is a need for more of them. Broadband is key, if we talk about keeping our rural parishes alive we need to breathe life into these and to keep people living in these communities, we have to be serious to get the infrastructure into these areas and by that I mean proper water and sewerage facilities, the likes of proper broadband and proper access to public transport. North Clare is very strong in agriculture and we need to support the families because they are going through a very tough time at the moment.
“I spent four years on the County Enterprise Board in charge of the mentoring and training management programme, that gave me an ideal opportunity where I was involved on a daily basis on the start your own business mentoring from which is now provided by LEO, I was in there from 1996 to 2000 and basically set up all of those programmes, there wasn’t any of that happening. I have a strong interest and empathy with community groups in the last 30 years, an awful lot of my work and interest has been helping and assisting community groups along, that is key to building up these communities in our rural areas where services have been lost”.
Nominated by the party to contest the 2004 local elections, Martin opted against running as he would have been forced to resign from his then role as an Administrative Officer with the local authority. Around that time, he was kept occupied as Chairman of the Micheál Cusack Centre in Carron which brought in over €1 million in fundraising to complete the renovation of the homestead and construction of the visitor centre.
Having been selected later than his counterparts, Noeleen Moran (SF), Roisin Garvey (GP), Bill Slattery (FG) and Joe Garrihy (FG), O’Loghlen and his Fianna Fáil colleagues are playing catch up but he’s confident he will be able to reach them by the time they get to the finish line. “The time scale is huge and it’s a huge area, it goes from New Quay, Ballyvaughan, Fanore down to Miltown Malbay over to Inagh, Boston, Tubber a massive area to be covered but I’m prepared to put in the work I’ve canvassed it before on three or four General Elections I know exactly where it is and I know a lot of the people in it, the timescale is tight but there is no question I’ll be putting in the work”.
On what Fianna Fáil would deem a successful result in the LEA, Martin stated, “We’d be certainly hoping to hold on to our two seats, two excellent councillors in Richard Nagle and Michael Hillery, first objective is to hold both of those and try improve on our first preference vote in the area”.