Sunday 21 January 2018

Clarke one of three SF candidates to win in Westmeath

Ronan Casey

SHE is nine months pregnant with her fourth child and her campaign was so low-key that she barely canvassed her home town of Mullingar.

Yet Sinn Fein's Sorca Clarke was elected on to Westmeath County Council with ease on Saturday.

The self-employed accountant was one of three Sinn Fein candidates elected on to Westmeath County Council, the party's first appearance on the local authority since the post-War of Independence elections in 1922.

They ran a candidate in each of the three electoral areas that made up the 20-seat council, and all romped home.

"Being pregnant I had swollen feet and ankles and a few other things happened, but women are pregnant all the time and get on with things so I'm no different," said Ms Clarke.

"Local politics has been pale, male and stale for too long, so I'm looking forward to myself and Una getting in there and changing things for the better."

Unsuccessful Longford/Westmeath by-election candidate for Sinn Fein Paul Hogan could, at least, enjoy some consolation with a comfortable election on to the local council.

Meanwhile former journalist Una D'Arcy made it a hat-trick for Sinn Fein, almost topping the poll at the first attempt in Mullingar-Coole.

Irish country-and-western superstar TR Dallas, aka Moate County Councillor Tom Allen, hung up his Stetson and left the political stage after a county council career lasting 15 years. The FF councillor was eliminated early on in the Athlone count.

Leading anti-wind farm campaigner and Irish fishing captain Andrew Duncan was elected in Mullingar Kilbeggan for Fine Gael. A regular on national TV over the past few months, the campaigner was behind March's national anti-wind farm rally attended by over 8,000 in Dublin.

He also mobilised tens of thousands nationwide in localised campaigns against wind farms.

An ill wind is blowing through the local Labour Party, who had dominated this council since local TD Willie Penrose made his debut on it in 1984. If any local council was to act as a barometer for the national Labour slide, it was this one.

His local enforcers – brother Johnnie and close pal Mick Dollard – were regular poll-toppers, bringing several candidates onto the council with them.

This time, both men saw their votes decimated by more than half, and they scraped on to the council on late counts.

Irish Independent Supplement

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