Thursday 12 December 2019

Pregnant Sorca causes labour pains as she's elected with ease despite low-key campaign

Ronan Casey

She was nine months pregnant, her fourth child is due this week and her campaign was so low key, she barely canvassed her home town of Mullingar, yet Sinn Fein's Sorca Clarke was elected onto Westmeath County Council with ease on Saturday.

The self-employed accountant and young mother-of-three was one of three Sinn Féin candidates elected onto Westmeath County Council, their 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," Sorca told

"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 Féin Paul Hogan could, at least, enjoy some consolation with a comfortable election onto the local Council, whilst former journalist Una D'Arcy made it a hat-trick for Sinn Féin, 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 Moate FF Councillor was eliminated early on in the Athlone count.

Leading anti-windfarm 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-windfarm 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.

Over successive elections, Penrose has played a key role in filling Council seats, largely at the expense of Fianna Fail. 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 onto the Council on late counts.

It was in 'Penrose country' that the historic 'Mullingar Accord' was struck between Labour and Fine Gael, ensuring the parties went into Government together in 2011.

However, with Fine Gael also taking a hit with three seats lost, it seems a new 'Mullingar Accord' may be on the cards, with a resurgent Fianna Fail and possibly Sinn Féin making unlikely bed-fellows.

Fianna Fail fielded ten candidates and eight were elected, including former Westmeath Senior Hurling Captain John Shaw, and both of the Independents elected were former FF men. One of these, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, had more than double the quota in votes.

FF's Aengus O'Rourke got a By-Election consolation prize of a Council seat in Athlone. Labour's By-Election candidate Denis Leonard lost his Mullingar Council seat, one of four Labour Councillors shown the door by Westmeath voters despite a massive campaign by the party. 

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