Val takes the rural route to electoral success

Val Smith had kept his distance from the count, arriving when proceedings were coming to an end.

This may have been the fourth time he won a seat in Cavan County Council, and he even has increased his vote on each occasion, but somehow it doesn't feel any easier.

"I've been canvassing for the last two and a half months from 2pm to 7pm every day for seven days a week - it wasn't easy."

The Fine Gael man stuck to the rural communities in canvassing for votes to the neglect of the electoral area's urban centres. Somehow the plan worked out with a succession of rural boxes returning over 100 first preference votes for Val and two well over 200 votes.

"When I got a good first preference vote, I knew I'd be there or thereabouts.

"I had three or four parishes - I had Laragh, Lavey, Ballyhaise where I was looking for a few other votes outside those areas.

"I depend on the rural vote."

His campaign was purely based on local community activism.

"I'm not into the big stuff of politics, but if you want some wee thing done for the parish - community centre, football pitch, grants for elderly people, I'm on the ball that way.

"You have to go back to the people who elect you - you can't forget where you came from."

Lavey once had three councillors in Val, Fergal Curtin and Gerry Murray. He understands the importance of having a representative fighting for an area.

"It's important I got elected to represent the people of my parishes. If I had not got elected, we had no candidate for our three parishes.

"It's a hard job but I'm delighted. I love it, to be straight with you - I love the job I'm delighted I got there."