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‘We need people to stand up on the issues that matter’ – McNamara

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*Michael McNamara. Photograph: Martin Connolly

Past experience of being a TD has given Michael McNamara (IND) the belief that he can make a difference if returned to Leinster House.

FACTFILE –
Occupation – Farmer & Barrister
Family – Only Child. Married with one child.
DOB – 01/03/74
Schools/Colleges – Scariff NS, Scariff Community College, St Flannans College, UCC, Catholic University of Louvain
Political CV – Labour TD from 2011 to 2016.
Top 3 priorities – Health, Shannon Airport, Farming
Something the electorate don’t know about you – I like to cook. My speciality dishes would be spaghetti puttanesca or beef bourguignon.

Elected in 2011 as a Labour candidate, Michael lost his seat in 2016. Just last month, he announced his intention to contest Saturday’s election. Speaking to The Clare Echo, he outlined what impact he think an Independent voice can have for the county. “I’ve been in Dáil Éireann so I know how it works, an Independent TD in Dáil Éireann can have a lot more impact than a Government backbencher and more than anybody in opposition, it is the way Dáil Éireann works.

“Neither of the big parties, there is no party going to get a majority, Sinn Féin are doing well in the opinion polls, they are all roughly within a few points of each other and none of them are destined to get a majority, they will be reliant on the support of Independents and I would be very much seeking to influence whichever party is looking to form a Government on the issues of historic under-funding in the Mid-West health care, the crisis in farming and Shannon Airport”.

One day after his candidacy was confirmed, Michael was hit by a family tragedy as his aunt, the woman who raised him died. The thought of withdrawing his name was considered. “When I went to Raheen Hospital, the thought of withdrawing did cross my mind. My immediate thought was to pull out of the race, I spoke to a couple of family members and political personnel like Patricia McCarthy, they said not to make any decision to leave it a couple of days and then I decided she wouldn’t have wanted me to pull out, as a nurse she fought hard for a lot of people and believed in seeing things through to the end”.

In his five years away from public life, the Scariff father of one said that his focus was on professional and personal matters. His connection to the Hillerys in Miltown Malbay is seen as a key area where McNamara will get votes, as well as East Clare his presence across the county is boosted by the support of local councillors. “I’m very grateful to the support I’ve got from Independent councillors like Ian Lynch, PJ Ryan and Ann Norton. I’m very grateful for their support and also former Independent councillors Christy Curtin and Martin Lafferty”.

Voters seeking change will weigh up all their options. As someone who has already been in the Dáil, Michael is asked would he be viewed as offering something different. “When I was in the Dáil I was more Independent than most and I was punished regularly for it within my party. I do think that most people acknowledge that we need people who are at least going to try to stand up for the issues that they get elected on and I did that, I didn’t win every fight that I fought but I at least tried to adhere to the values on which I was elected in much more difficult times than what pertain now. We have heard very little about Clare in the past four years, we have heard little from the Mid-West TDs on Shannon Airport, the A&E at UHL and the historic under-funding there”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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