Thursday 19 April 2018

President's nephew Donal is soundly rejected by the voters

Donal Higgins
Donal Higgins


THE presidential seal of approval counted for very little in Co Clare as Michael D Higgins's nephew Donal suffered an electoral wipe-out.

The Ballycar man trailed in last out of 10 candidates in the Killaloe electoral area.

A late entrant into the race for Labour, the 35-year-old married father-of-two tallied only 308 first preferences or 3 per cent of the vote.

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 left without any representation on the next Clare County Council.

Its only sitting councillor, Paschal Fitzgerald, polled poorly in the Shannon area trailing in ninth 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 be worried for his own general election chances when he sees his party polling only 4 per cent 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 was set to make gains on its 2009 showing with 35 per cent of the vote. Fine Gael polled 31 per cent and Independents 22 per cent.

At the count centre, Fianna Fail's transport spokesman and Clare TD, Timmy Dooley, said the 35 per cent share of the vote "is a massive increase on the 17 per cent we got here in the general election".

He added: "We have been through a couple of bad elections. It is the first time in quite some time that we've seen a spring in the step of the Fianna Fail family again."

Outgoing FF councillor Brian Meaney was an early casualty, with tallies from the Ennis area confirming a poor performance. He was left ruing his shock decision to jump ship from the Greens last year to join Fianna Fail.

A dejected Meaney stayed away from the count yesterday and wasted no time taking down his posters in 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.

Sunday Independent

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