Fine Gael’s Mary Howard has said that Independent candidate Dr Michael Harty’s election campaign threw a spanner in the works for her party’s General Election campaign in Clare.

Ms Howard looks to be dead and buried with 2563 voted in the first count, while Harty took a huge step towards a seat with 8629 votes.

Asked whether Fine Gael could have approached the election differently, Ms Howard admitted that the Kilmihil doctor’s “No Doctor No Village” campaign turned out to be one of her party’s biggest stumbling blocks.

“I think Dr Harty threw up a huge puzzle for all of us to deal with because he was getting votes everywhere,” Mary Howard told the Clare People.

“I met him out in Cappa and he was getting votes out there, in north Clare, there were people voting for him in the town of Ennis, people I knew in Ennis.

“He was getting votes every single place.

“So I know Clare always throws up an independent candidate but he was particularly strong and in fact if the election was ran last week, he probably would have headed the poll.

“And he’d a huge campaign team. I met them out one night and he’d 105 with him. That’s a huge machine to have behind you, that we didn’t have.”

She added: “Maybe he’s got his finger on the pulse to an extent regards rural Ireland and he really threw the whole thing up for everybody.”

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