The Lakeside Marina provided a picturesque backdrop for an election fundraiser for Councillor Sorca Clarke on Saturday last.
With the distinct possibility of a General Election on the horizon, crowds turned out in large numbers to support the selected candidate and to tuck into a sumptuous BBQ prepared by local Liam Ryan Cumann members.
As well as the culinary delights of the BBQ and a trip out on the lake for all who attended, the attendees had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with An Uactarán Shinn Féin, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald TD.
The Sinn Féin leader came directly from the huge Pride event in Dublin still bearing a rainbow wristband. Councillor Sorca Clarke gave a rousing speech echoing the party successes both locally and nationally of the past year but remained humble as she credited the work, not just to the representatives in Leinster House, but rather to the local members who work at the coalface to help achieve the goals of the party as a whole.
Councillor Clarke spoke of the changing tides and the shifting landscape of Irish politics and gave the crowd a strong ‘you ain't seen nothing yet’ assurance, saying that the line-outs for the next local elections will be a force to be reckoned with, ‘our brightest and best looking for your support!’
Needing no introduction, Mary Lou was welcomed to the dais. With microphone in hand, the Sinn Féin leader spoke eloquently about the growth of the party and reinforced the appetite to be in Government so that they could indeed be the ones making the decisions and such decisions for the best for Irish society and not just the so-called elites of this world.
Mary Lou implored party members to go and spread the word of Sinn Féin before strongly endorsing Councillor Sorca Clarke as a candidate for the Dáil, telling the attendees of her genuine nature and how much of a strong TD she has the possibility to be, not just regionally but also nationally.
In addition to this, a number of groups from the locality got the opportunity to meet and lobby the party leader. Amongst the groups were Kenny Tynan, who many will know as the medicinal cannabis refugee. Kenny was joined by his father, Pat. The three sat down and discussed the ongoing issue with his inability and impediments to getting access to the medication that he and so many others need to maintain a quality of life. Mary Lou gave him assurances that she would do as much as she possibly could do to help with this crucially grave matter.
Brenda Mannion and Fiona Lynam Kenneally from Westmeath Together for Yes also reflected on the referendum campaign with her before launching into a deep discussion about the future of women in politics.
Athlone Community Radio was on-hand to do an exclusive interview with Mary Lou which is available on podcast through the stations’ website www.athlonecommunityradio.ie Willow Park FC was also represented expertly by Helen O’Brien.
As dusk became darkness, the crowds ebbed their way away from the event, full of the spoils of the BBQ and re-energised by the words of both Cllr. Sorca Clarke and Deputy Mary Lou McDonald TD.