*Rita McInerney. Photograph: John Mangan

DOONBEG’s Rita McInerney has been selected as Fianna Fáil members to fill the Clare County Council seat vacated by Cllr Bill Chambers (FF).

Cllr Chambers in November tendered his resignation to the local authority prompting Fianna Fáil to organise a selection convention in the Kilrush local electoral area.

Rita McInerney prevailed against Michael Shannon of Annagh and Cooraclare’s Martin Dooley in a tight convention held at Teach Cheoil in Kilrush on Sunday evening.

On the first count, she had 38 votes followed by Shannon on 31 and Dooley who polled 10. This led to the elimination of Dooley to determine a victor. Rita received two second preferences bringing her tally to 40 and Michael added five extra votes to bring him to 36 which was insufficient to catch the shop owner.

Over 80 persons attended the convention which was chaired by Limerick TD, Niall Collins (FF). He was joined at the top table by Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF), Senator Timmy Dooley (FF), Clare CDC Chair, Mike Enright and party strategist Gerry Reidy. Collins who chaired the meeting said he expected a General Election to be held next winter.

Rita, a General Election in 2020 will be officially co-opted to Clare County Council at its January meeting. Party members in West Clare will be voting again by February to finalise the local election ticket in the Kilrush LEA .

Addressing the convention, Rita said it was “an absolute honour” to be selected to represent the Kilrush area as a county councillor until the local elections in June. She told party members it was “a pleasure” to speak with them over recent weeks. Efforts of her campaign manager, Pat Considine and her chief canvassers Tommy McCarthy, Noel O’Shea and Mike Enright were also acknowledged.

She voiced her commitment to serve the communities of West Clare. “We must ensure there is a vibrant future secured for the site in Moneypoint and to fight for continued investment on this side of the Shannon Estuary”.

A former CEO of Ennis Chamber, Rita flagged the need to make it easier for families to try build a future in West Clare while sharing her vision for “sustainable communities”.

This campaign was “very well fought” and displayed “wonderful interest,” the forty eight year old added. “It shows the calibre and strength of the people we have in Fianna Fáil in West Clare”. The owner of a shop and café in Doonbeg said she believed in the “ethos and objectives of Fianna Fáil”.

Unsuccessful candidate, Michael Shannon referenced the issues of tourism, agriculture and urban decline when addressing party members. “We have a strong tourism industry but a lot can be done to renovate and spread it out across all of West Clare”. He expressed his appreciation with all those who showed their support over the past few weeks as part of the canvass.

Having three candidates for one seat was very positive, Michael affirmed. “It is very important for delegates to have a choice, it shows the grassroots are active the whole time”.

Despite this activity, Shannon was adamant more meetings are needed within the area. “We need more meetings”. He was optimistic the party would re-elect five members in the West Clare Municipal District.

Deputy Crowe stated, “Rita has been an energetic political activist for many years and first sought elected office as an independent in Ennis in 2009, and in 2020 was one of my Fianna Fáil running mates in the general election campaign. Rita is from a well-known West Clare family, and I know that she will approach her new role with great energy and enthusiasm and I look forward to supporting all of her efforts through my office. We have two excellent sitting councillors in West Clare in Cillian Murphy and PJ Kelly and now our efforts must be to retain three seats there in the local elections”.

Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) said he was “delighted” to see Rita co-opted to the local authority praising the “brains and ideas” she will bring to the table. He stated, “three very good candidates put name forward which shows the breadth and depth that is available to us as a party. I made a conscious and deliberate decision to stay out of the process because I have to work with the successful candidate and I didn’t want to make things awkward by supporting someone and then potentially having to try work with somebody else”.

Success of Rita was also welcomed by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) and Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF). Moneypoint’s potential for wind energy development was referenced by Cllr Killeen, “we have to fight for this side of the Estuary the whole time to keep investment coming, to keep football teams going, the schools open and the communities vibrant”.

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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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