Sunday 4 December 2016

Clare: 'No FF spat' but two into one won't go

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Published 22/02/2011 | 05:00

Timmy Dooley helps Kevin O'Halloran and his children Chloe and Edith with a calf while canvassing in Mountshannon
Timmy Dooley helps Kevin O'Halloran and his children Chloe and Edith with a calf while canvassing in Mountshannon

PRIVATELY, Fianna Fail sources admit they "haven't a snowball's chance" of holding their two seats in Clare.

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But they're still running two candidates, with sitting TD Timmy Dooley joined on the party ticket by Dr John Hillery, son of former President and European commissioner Patrick J Hillery.

Dr Hillery, based in Booterstown, Co Dublin, but born in Spanish Point, Co Clare, fills the gap left by former defence minister Tony Killeen, who was one of the flood of party retirees in the months before the general election was called and is now FF's director of elections.

Although there were reports in local newspapers in the past few weeks of tensions between the running mates, Mr Dooley last night insisted "there was no spat" between himself and Dr Hillery.

Despite being the junior candidate to Mr Killeen on the ticket, Mr Dooley topped the poll at his first general election in 2007 and is hoping enough of that vote holds up to see him through.

"It's a tough campaign this time, a lot tougher than the last time," he says.

"We're fighting hard to retain two seats. It's a difficult job but we've a very committed organisation and we're fighting hard for that. We've a difficult job with the national trend the way it is.

"I'm not getting anger on the doors. Yes, there'll always be people who will be annoyed with politicians and will close the door but we had that the last time as well.

"There's a few more this time, for sure. But there is a much greater level of engagement. People are kind of putting behind them the problems and looking to the future.

"They're asking what we're going to do to create jobs and get credit flowing, what protections are being put in place if they lose their jobs."

It was this constituency that turned up the biggest surprise of the last Labour surge, 1992's 'Spring Tide', when Dr Moosajee Bhamjee won a seat at the expense of Fine Gael.

And, although the 'Gilmore Gale', has blown off course, the party will be hoping its candidate Michael McNamara can take a seat.

Dr Bhamjee has been drafted in to help Mr McNamara's campaign.

But the Labour vote would have to increase hugely on 2007, when the party performed woefully and received less than 900 first preferences.

Fine Gael TDs Joe Carey and Pat Breen should hang on, and the party is also running Shannon-based councillor Tony Mulcahy.

But the Fianna Fail seat in the old stomping ground of Eamon de Valera could be picked off by Independent candidate James Breen.

Mr Breen is looking to take back the seat he won at the 2002 General Election, when he topped the poll campaigning on health issues, but lost in 2007.

CANDIDATES

FIANNA FAIL

Timmy Dooley TD

Dr John Hillery

FINE GAEL

Joe Carey TD

Pat Breen TD

Cllr Tony Mulcahy

LABOUR

Michael McNamara

GREEN PARTY

Cllr Brian Meaney

INDEPENDENTS

Patrick Brassil

Cllr James Breen

Jim Connolly

Anne Cronin

Sarah Ferrigan

Brian Markham

Madeline McAleer

John Joseph McCabe

Gerry Walshe

Last time out

> Fianna Fail senator Timmy Dooley topped the poll with 10,791 votes, 2,500 ahead of party colleague Tony Killeen

> Independent James Breen lost his seat to FG’s Joe Carey

> Labour’s Pascal Fitzgerald got only 892 first preferences.

THE NUMBERS

> SEATS 4

> ELECTORATE 81,032

> VOTERS PER TD 20,258

Irish Independent

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