*Dr Martina Cleary. 

SINN FÉIN have scooped a strong first-time candidate to contest the local elections in the Killaloe Municipal District in the guise of founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary.

Party officials have been doing their utmost to stay tight-lipped on potential candidates in advance of the June 7th elections and Dr Cleary beat them to the post when announcing her candidacy in the end of an interview with Clare FM on Thursday.

This announcement caught Sinn Féin officials on the hop who had not planned on confirming Cleary’s candidacy as of yet.

It is unclear if the Crusheen woman was rebuked by party officials for this. Dr Cleary had committed to do an interview with The Clare Echo on Tuesday morning but cancelled and has not been able to field requests since.

Although Dr Cleary announced she was the selected candidate, Munster Cúige of Sinn Féin issued correspondence that they would be selecting one local election candidate in the Killaloe Municipal District and that it had to be a female candidate with nominations opening on Monday March 25th at 7:30pm and closing on Saturday March 30th at 7:30pm.

In 2020, Martina founded the Clare Pyrite Action Group which she has chaired since. She led the lobbying efforts that resulted in the inclusion of Clare and Limerick in a €2.7bn defective concrete blocks redress scheme.

Dr Cleary in a statement online announcing her candidacy outlined, “Among my top priorities will be continuing the fight to ensure homeowners in Clare impacted by Defective Concrete Products, have timely access to a working grant scheme to help rebuild their homes”.

She has flagged emigration as another key issue and referred to her time living in Finland for thirteen years. “I was an economic migrant, I lived in Finland for 13 years and felt pushed out of my country, there were no options. Eventually I got a job in North Clare and was able to move back. Our young people deserve better than that, and we need them here to help to fix the problems we have whether it’s in health, housing, education or any of the other issues”.

Sinn Féin themselves have announced Martina as their candidate in a statement issued to local media. This PR piece also referenced her time as a union representative for 65 colleagues in second level education where she “secured €4.2 million to improve their pay and conditions. I’m very strongly committed to advocacy and helping people. Being involved in education and the arts, I’ve been involved in a lot of community-based projects and groups, for example working with the elderly in the Kilkeady community, looking at memory, place and belonging. I worked with Clare Women’s Network on a community-based project on gender-based violence. I’m also a Teachers Union of Ireland rep in the Technological University of the Shannon, where I am a lecturer”.

According to the Sinn Féin statement, Martina said she “always supported Sinn Féin and I joined the party four years ago”. She added, “When the pyrite problem emerged, I had a certain amount of experience in how to lead a campaign, organise people and see a project through. But the first Irish politician I ever spoke to was Rose Conway Walsh, the Sinn Féin TD for Mayo and I was very inspired by her professionalism. When I spoke at the Oireachtas Committee hearings on pyrite, I was lucky to meet Eoin O’Broin, who is the most inspiring living politician in Ireland in my opinion and of course, Mary Lou McDonald. She visited Clare and spoke with homeowners and what inspired me was the accessibility of Sinn Féin politicians, how down to earth they are, their compassion and respect for people. When all the Mica / Pyrite campaigns were working on amendments, pre-legislative scrutiny and everything- that was all Eoin O’Broin’s work”.

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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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