by Joe Ó Muircheartaigh
As outgoing Labour TD Michael McNamara bowed out in his bid to win re-election to the 32nd Dáil he took aim at the abuse he encountered during the campaign trail on social media, most of which he says came from outside the county.
Endgame for Deputy McNamara came this Sunday morning in the Falls Hotel count centre when just 20 minutes into a re-count that was ordered in the early hours of the morning he pulled back and conceded defeat in his bid to overtake Fianna Fáil candidate Michael ‘Malty’ McDonagh and remain in the election race.
“The electorate didn’t want the Labour Party,” reflected Deputy Michael McNamara as he finally called time on his General Election campaign. The Scariff-based TD had asked for a re-count in the early morning after he was initially eliminated at the end of the 11th count when he was 85 votes behind Fianna Fáil candidate, Michael ‘Malty’ McDonagh.
However, after an early re-check of the votes cast for both McNamara and McDonagh just a discrepancy two votes was found which brought the gap between the two candidates down to 81. “It wasn’t enough,” Deputy McNamara told The Clare People.
I meant that while most people were bracing themselves for a full re-count taking three hours the whole process was over in 20 minutes, beginning at 11am and finishing by 11.20am.
“You enter a contest to win and I didn’t,” said Deputy McNamara. “I am disappointed also for the people who invested so much in my campaign. The Clare Labour Party members who came out in the same numbers as they did in 2011, to my amazement and to their huge credit.
“It was 81 extra first preferences,” continued Deputy McNamara. “It was 85 last night and there were two found in today’s bundle and that brought it down to 81. Eighty one first preferences — I don’t know if he would have transferred to me sufficiently to put me ahead of the next candidate.
“I always knew that and expected that I would get a lot of transfers and the challenge was going to be to get first preferences — I saw attitudes to the Labour Party harden with the local elections and I knew the same would happen with the General Election. You could sense it, you could sense the attitudes that were hardening,” he added.
When questioned about his future in politics, Deputy McNamara, who saw his first preference vote plummet from 8,572 in 2011 to 4,472 in this election, said he “didn’t know” and just wanted a good night’s sleep.
“Beidh lá eile,” he said. “Níl fhios agam,” he added.
However, in bowing out of politics for the time being, the Labour representative said to aim at the online abuse he encountered during the course of the election campaign. “There is a lot of vitriol on Facebook and social media that I find difficult to understand — what drives somebody to sit in their home and post something vitriolic on somebody’s Facebook page,” he said
“I have to say that the vast majority of instances it was from outside of Clare,” he added.