When the Fianna Fáil party held their election convention last Sunday evening, it looked like the possibility that they would be running only one candidate in the county could become a reality. However the party left the nominations open until Wednesday night and at the last minute a new candidate was added to the ticket alongside sitting TD Dara Calleary. Lisa Chambers from Ballyheane, Castlebar will be joining Calleary on the ballot as Fianna Fáil look to retain the two seats they hold in the county at present. Chambers joins a field that has bloated since last week with five new candidates putting their names forward for election. Michael Kilcoyne ended the will he or won’t he suspense of putting his name forward at the weekend and the popular independent councillor who topped the poll last time out in the Castlebar area in the local elections will be a formidable opponent for the major party candidates. Also putting their names down on the ballot paper are two Ballina based independent candidates Martin Daly who is backed by the newly formed Mayo Reform Movement and Loretta Clarke. The Green Party will also be represented on February 25 with Kilmaine man John Carey being put forward by the junior partners from the last coalition government.
Twenty-four year old, Chambers who is currently studying for her Barrister at Law degree at King’s Inn is the newest name on ballot paper and is looking to bring fresh new thinking to the electorate. “My message is that I want to bring a fresh perspective to both the party and to politics in general. I’m a young candidate, an ordinary local person who wants to see changes brought about for the betterment of everybody.” Coming into the race late and as a relative unknown apart from inside the party where she is the chairperson of the Castlebar Town Cummain doesn’t phase Chambers. “I did consider this for a while, but I’m not naive and I know I have a mammoth task ahead of me, but my aim is to get out there and win a seat. The feedback has been good out there, we had a very good convention and there still is a lot of support for Fianna Fáil out there.” Chambers also hopes to see that her decision to run will encourage more young people and women to get involved in politics. “I would like to see more young people take an interest and be actively involved in politics. Hopefully I can be a role model for younger people and more women to get involved in politics.” For now she is concentrating on getting her campaign up off the ground and running “I’ve to got to hit the ground running now and get out there an meet the people. I know there will be opposition from people towards me and the party, but I’m not afraid of the discussion and the Fianna Fáil party have never been afraid of a fight.”
In Ballina Loretta Clarke, who is 75 years old has put her hand up to run as a voice for the elderly in the community. Clarke told the Mayo Advertiser that, “I call it straight up as I see it. I’ve no idea if I’ll get 50 votes of 5,000, but I’ve been bothered greatly by what I’ve seen going on for a long time.” A major issue that Clarke will be campaigning on is the issue of treatment for Alzheimers suffers and ensuring that the get proper treatment and care. “I’ve seen those big nursing homes that are run for profit where you have 185 beds how can people get the proper care and treatment that they need in settings like that.” Clarke also said that she want’s to see a charter for older people introduced, “we have a charter for the animals and every bird in a bush, but what about the older people in the country.”
Martin Daly launched his campaign last night in Ballina and in setting out his agenda, has called for a culling of the numbers of TDs and Senators by half for future elections and abolishing quangos that he says. He is also looking for a referendum on the EU/IMF bailout. As part of his economic principles, he has called for a ban on the selling off of State assets, a more gradual elimination of the budget deficit, a reduction in salaries and benefits of the CEOs and directors of semi-state companies, an end to bank bonuses and no further increase in taxation, either direct or indirect. Daly was an opponent of the Lisbon Treaty during both referendums and describes himself as “unapologetic pro-life activist”. John Carey is a 45-year-old building surveyor said that he wanted to offer Mayo voters an alternative to the “stagnant State policies of the older parties that are remnants of the foundation of the State which serve vested interests at a cost to wider society”. In particular the Green Party candidate hit out at the Fine Gael party and their actions as the majority party in Mayo County Council. “Fine Gael and Labour were in the dominant positions in most local authorities, including Mayo, over our decade and a half of ruinous speculation and re-zoning,” he said. “Now they are presenting themselves as the great knights in shining armour.” Carey went on to say that it was time to move away from the parochial element of our politics. “ I may be able to fix potholes but I don’t stand for pothole politics. We cannot expect things to get better until we get away from the corrupt, cronyism and parochial, clientalism that has dominated this country, and this county, for over 80 years.”