‘Fine Gael becomes the biggest party in Clare for the first time’
There were no changes to the boundaries here since 2007.
With more than twice as many votes as anyone else Fine Gael became the biggest party in Clare. Its incumbents Pat Breen and Joe Carey were re-elected without a bother, though Carey may be a little concerned by the strong vote of the third Fine Gael candidate, Tony Mulcahy.
Since the foundation of the state this had been a Fianna Fail stronghold, represented by Éamon de Valera for over forty years. With the retirement of former minister Tony Killeen, Timmy Dooley seemed to have a clear run, but when Dr John Hillery, son of former president (and Clare TD) Patrick Hillery, emerged as the second Fianna Fail candidate, it became apparent that while Fianna Fail seemed certain of one seat, it might not be Dooley. The battle between the two of them was intense, but Dooley had a 600-vote lead on the ninth count, after which Hillery was eliminated.
Favourite for the remaining seat was independent James Breen, who had been a TD here between 2002 and 2007. While he increased his vote slightly over 2007, it was obvious from the first count that he would not be returning to Leinster House.
Instead, this seat was taken by new Labour candidate, farmer and barrister, Michael McNamara. Since Patrick Hogan, who subsequently became Ceann Comhairle, won a seat here in 1951, Labour had only once taken a seat, through Dr Moosajee Bhamjee in 1992, and having won 1.6% of the votes in 2007 it could hardly have had Clare high on its target list. However, McNamara had gained valuable exposure through his 2009 European Parliament campaign, when he had won over 12,000 votes, many in Clare, as an Independent, and he increased the Labour vote share more than nine-fold to sail into the second seat.