*Violet-Anne Wynne arrives at the Count Centre. Photograph: John Mangan
Cameras, crews and onlookers surrounded Violet Anne Wynne as the tenth count was announced and she was the second candidate to reach the quota, it was a situation that wasn’t predicted by many.
Despite her low profile, Violet steamrolled her way to more than 15 per cent of the 1st preference vote. At the count centre, the Sinn Féin candidate’s team were located beside The Clare Echo media station and their contained excitement was palpable, some members bouncing their thoughts off The Clare Echo team with soon-to-be councillor Donna McGettigan kindly offering to include us in the Shinners’ coffee run.
But all eyes were on Violet on Sunday night and all day Monday, the Kilrush-based mum of five being pulled left and right for media questioning, pats on the back, family duties and conversations. However when the moment of celebration arrived, she cut a calm figure and opted not to be hoisted aloft like her colleagues, instead holding onto one of her children as two tri-colours were instead raised in the air.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, she alluded that despite finding it all a bit “overwhelming”, her family remained a calming influence over the two-day count. “That has kept me grounded, I walked into this room yesterday and there were cameras all in my face and people wanting to talk to me because I’d left it so late to come into the count room, so having my kids there was a constant reminder as to why I got into politics in the first place and why I’m doing all of this, because it can be quite strange. It’s a different world to what I am usually living.”
Furthering this point, Violet said that personal hardships gave her the resolve to continue her political career following a poor showing in last year’s local elections. “I have been pushed by anger towards my own circumstances, just feeling hardship every day that I decided to put myself forward and I wasn’t going to change my mind on that most definitely but I had no idea I was going to actually be the candidate in this election and I had no idea that it was going to transpire to this kind of result.”
In the elation of her selection, Violet Anne was quick to remember some low days which troubled her as recently as the election campaign. “We actually had car trouble, my car broke down for a week and a half of the very short campaign that we had which was only three weeks so that did put everything under pressure. I was looking at prospects of having to thumb for a lift to get events but in fact my team stepped up to the mark, they’re a great group of people and came out and got me whenever I needed to attend debates in particular. In fact if anything, it brought us all closer together as a team which was great but that was a specific moment when I was left wondering, what am I going to do here. It was a very low point.”
Looking ahead at her own future in Dáil Eireann with a party that’s entering new territory, Violet was defiant about Sinn Féin’s prospects of entering the spotlight. “I think we’ll deal with it the way we handle most obstacles, that’s with confidence but particularly with comradery. We boost each other up and we keep each other going because when you are creating change and you are there for the people, you do face many obstacles.”