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Wednesday 3 September 2014

President Higgins’ nephew suffers wipe-out

Family name counts for little in Clare

Gordon Deegan

Published 24/05/2014 | 15:58

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The Higgins name in Co Clare counted for very little today as President Michael D Higgins’s nephew, Donal suffered an electoral wipe-out.

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From early on in the morning, it was plain to see that the Ballycar man had failed to make an impression on the voters trailing in last out of 10 candidates in the Killaloe electoral area, according to the tallies.

A late entrant into the race for Labour, the 35 year old married father of two tallied only 308 first preferences or 3% of the vote in six seater.

The Shannon factory worker registered to contest the election with only 60 minutes before the May 5th deadline leaving himself too much ground to make up.

A shell-shocked Higgins declined to comment at the Clare count centre at Treacy’s West County hotel in Ennis yesterday afternoon as Labour looked set to be without any representation in the next Clare Co Council.

This follows its only sitting councillor, Cllr Paschal Fitzgerald polling poorly in the Shannon area trailing in 9th place in the six seater based on the almost complete tally of the area.

Labour has one sitting TD, Michael McNamara in Clare, but he will worried for his own general election chances when he sees his party polling only 4% in the county based on tallies from three of the six electoral areas.

The day was kinder to another nephew of an Irish President with Cllr Michael Hillery (FF), nephew of the late President Patrick Hillery set to top the poll in the eight seat west Clare area.

Across the county, Fianna Fail is set to make gains on its 2009 showing with 35% of the vote with Fine Gael polling 31% while independents polled 22%.

At the count centre, FF Transport spokesman and Clare TD, Timmy Dooley said that the 35% share of the vote “is a massive increase on the 17% we got here in the general election”.

Deputy Dooley said that the FF performance represents “a huge revival for us”.

He said: “We have been through a couple of bad elections. It is the first time in quite some time that seen a spring in the step of the FF family again. That is motivating.”

In the Killaloe area, Clare’s mayor, Cllr Joe Arkins (FG)| has a fight on his hands to hold onto his seat after his Ruan power base was broken up in the redrawing of the electoral boundaries.

Outgoing FF councillor, Brian Meaney was an early casualty in the morning with tallies from the Ennis area confirming a poor performance for the Barefield man.

The former Green was left ruing his shock decision to jump ship from the Greens last year to join FF. Meaney was only added to the party ticket after failing to get selected locally.

A dejected Meaney stayed away from the count centre and wasted no time taking down his posters from around Ennis.

No outgoing female councillor was contesting the current election, however, there may be two elected in the Ennis area with newcomer and independent, Ann Norton expected to take a seat.

Norton may be followed by Mary Howard of Fine Gael.

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