Saturday 1 October 2016

Councillor snubs FG for run as Independent

Greg Harkin

Published 05/01/2016 | 02:30

Challenger: Independent councillor Niamh Kennedy
Challenger: Independent councillor Niamh Kennedy

A county councillor who turned down a chance to run on a Fine Gael election ticket with a Government minister is to go forward as an Independent candidate instead.

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Cllr Niamh Kennedy topped the local poll in her area of Donegal in 2014.

Fine Gael strategists, desperate to increase their number of female candidates, offered the mother-of-three the chance to run in the new five-seat Donegal constituency alongside Gaeltacht Junior Minister Joe McHugh.

But the Independent councillor insisted she could get more done for Donegal outside of a mainstream political party. She claimed the Government was "trying to destroy our county" through wind farm developments and her opposition to the growing number of turbines would form a central part of her campaign.

"I was approached and asked if I'd run for Fine Gael but I felt I couldn't do that because it would have been a betrayal of my own principles," said the 46-year-old.

The community activist is from the same town as current Independent TD Thomas Pringle.

But she claimed that being from Killybegs wouldn't damage her chances of being elected.

"We are the forgotten county and over and over again, for many decades this county has returned TDs to Dáil Éireann who didn't fight for Donegal," she said.

"We are cut off from the rest of the Republic except for a couple of kilometres of a border with Leitrim and it feels like we've been abandoned.

"It's impossible to get a mobile phone signal half the time, never mind broadband.

"The main political parties have promised loads but delivered very little. They put themselves first and Donegal second."

Ms Kennedy, whose adult children are working or studying in England, said Donegal's tourism potential could be its saviour.

"But that's not going to happen if we keep building wind farms to generate power to export to the UK when the UK is doing away with the technology altogether," she added.

Irish Independent

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