*Cllr PJ Ryan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Sunday saw PJ Ryan receive his highest vote in politics contesting his fifth local election, the third occasion in which he was successful.
Ryan polled 1238 first preference votes in the Shannon Municipal District, a sharp rise on his previous tallies of 825 (2014), 1013 (2009), 700 (2004) and 452 (1999). The oil distributor credits “hard work” with the surge in his support. “At the end of the day that’s what it takes to increase your vote, you have to work hard for your constituents”.
“It’s the highest vote I’ve got in politics, it was great. Some of my friends were joking saying ‘you won by a landslide one vote’ but what it does mean is I got the fourth seat in a seven seater which is very important,” PJ told The Clare Echo.
Getting over the line certainly put a smile on the face of the seventy one year old but retaining his seat in 2014 will always hold a special place in his heart. “Once you achieve it no matter what way it’s sweet, realistically the last election (2014) was my second time being elected and that was very important because anybody can be a one trick pony but when you have to do it the second time or when you do the second time it’s very important. I would consider the second one the most important, if I haven’t made it this time it wouldn’t have been as important but definitely the second election is very important. When I look at my colleague Cllr McMahon, he’s 42 years in Clare County Council, I’m only a novice”.
When he returns to the Council Chamber, the Cratloe resident will be joined by some younger ‘novices’, of their future impact he stated, “Clare County Council is a team and if you take on new subs they have to work with the team that’s already there, it’s as simple as that. We have to serve the needs of the Clare people”.
A former member of the Fianna Fáil party, PJ maintained his colleagues would be reliant on Independent candidates like himself when the new term of office begins. Despite the retirement of long serving Independent duo James Breen and Christy Curtin, he is confident the smaller amount of Independents will continue to deliver.
“We still have some very strong Independents who are still in Clare County Council, we’ll fight our corner. One of the main parties is going to need us anyway, one way or the other, at the minute it would look like Fianna Fáil have 13 seats and Fine Gael have 8, none of them will have a major majority without support from Independents, it is important we are there”.
During the canvass, housing was the common complaint being levelled at Cllr Ryan. “It was the biggest thing on the door and the rent system is getting out of hand, the amount of money people have to pay. Over the next twelve months you’re going to have a lot more people going to need social or affordable housing, I’d be an advocate for social and affordable, there are quite a lot of young couples who could afford a half decent mortgage but because the main banks are not into that kind of business they are left out in the cold”.