*Some of the Kilrush LEA candidates at The Electoral Chair election debate. Photograph: John Mangan

FIRST-TIME candidate Dinny Gould is on course to take one of the five seats at the expense of Fianna Fáil in the Kilrush local electoral area according to a retiring councillor in West Clare.

Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) will not be contesting a local election in Clare for the first time in fifty years when the public cast their votes on June 7th.

Thirteen candidates are battling to win the five seats in the Kilrush LEA and according to Cllr Kelly “it is virtually impossible to predict”.

He outlined, “Two elections ago east of Kilrush, we had Bill Chambers (FF), Oliver Garry (FG) and myself, Oliver Garry dropped out so we had two, Bill dropped out and I’ve dropped out so there is a chance now that we could end up with nobody east of Kilrush, there is a catchment vote and I see indications in the last week coming together”.

Speaking on The Electoral Chair, The Clare Echo’s political podcast, the Lissycasey native commented, “West Clare is going to be impossible to predict, we have lessons to learn from the past, I think Fianna Fáil are going to lose a seat, the man in Cree, Dinny Gould his name is all over the place, it is the subject of discussion so I think he will take a seat, Fine Gael will in the person of Gabriel, Ian Lynch will in Kilrush and the jigsaw starts then.

“There are three going in Mullagh, two will drop out and there will be somebody the highest and will the vote transfer? I’d suspect Michael Shannon will be the highest but we could end up with Michael Shannon, Rita McInerney and Cillian Murphy fighting for the last seat but it not be as simple as that. Sinn Féin in Kilrush are very hard to predict, it is very hard to predict the Kilrush vote, the last time in the local elections Violet-Anne Wynne went in Kilrush for the Council, I beat her six to one, months later she headed the poll in the county, it is virtually impossible to predict”.

Cllr PJ Kelly. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Within the Kilrush LEA, there are multiple factors to influence voters, he explained. “In my own eastern area, because of my absence there are three running, you have my neighbour John Hill, Susan Griffin in Ballyea and Alan Troy, I think my absence meant there was a bit of competition, I’m told if I was there that they wouldn’t be. Will they transfer to each other? In the increasing section where I am, there is an increasing population in the catchment area, that increasing population has aroused problems like school demands, support services, community centres but as you move west the population is going down. The demands we have are not the demands we have, tourism is a big issue in the west, in between a lot of isolated places potholes is the issue but then you go into Kilrush you’re talking about social housing, lack of employment, they will tell you all about the great factories that were there in the past and nothing has been done in years. Effectively from Ballyea to Loop Head, you have four different agendas if not five”.

Given that Dawn Bennett (SF) runs a salon in Kilrush, her profile is higher than that of Deputy Wynne when she ran in 2019 and may give Sinn Féin a better vote in West Clare.
“I’d be very slow to speculate. In the past, I used to use a term ‘the born against vote’, when people came out and I won’t say F them all but they wanted to penalise the rest, Sinn Féin is getting that but there is a concern that we’re against it, they find the focus in that place, the people that shout loudest, Máire Lou, I believe she recently won a title as one of the best speakers in the world for shouting, I think An Taoiseach gave her that title but shouting doesn’t get you anywhere”.

Across the Kilrush LEA, PJ is confident of a high turnout. “People have different ways and values, the rural vote is a higher turnout vote than an urban, you could have a place in a certain town with a low turnout but they’d all be calling you the following day but in the rural areas in my experience and I’ve done nine elections you’ve 75 to 80 percent turnout, this in effect it could be 100 percent, the rural vote is far more consistent and I always used to get the 10-10-20 vote, it is a different vote that if I was inside with Ian Lynch fighting in Kilrush he’d be on a different vote base and if I was with Cillian Murphy and Gabriel Keating it is a different concern and a different vote, West Clare is different for that reason. We’re close enough to Ennis, we’re near enough to Ennis but far away enough at the same time. We’re lucky, in the past I serviced all the areas around like Cranny, Coolmeen, Kilmihil and Kildysart, I’d be promoting community programmes and the various items like supports for communities, things that weren’t there ten years ago like creches are in big demand and are increasing by the day, I see two schools quite close to me in the West where they were losing students because they have a creche in the neighbourhood, they have set up the middle room in the school for their own creche before and after school, the demands of twenty years ago are different to today and tomorrow, the only permanent thing is change, there will be different demands in the future”.

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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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