Wednesday 28 September 2016

New TD from a long FF line is in no rush to see FG deal

Published 01/03/2016 | 02:30

Fiona O’Loughlin of Fianna Fáil who won a seat in South Kildare. Photo: Fergal Phillips.
Fiona O’Loughlin of Fianna Fáil who won a seat in South Kildare. Photo: Fergal Phillips.

By the age of six, Fiona O'Loughlin had already realised that politics was a tough gig when her father dressed her and her siblings up as Wombles and drove them around in an open-top car to raise money for the local community centre.

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The newly elected Fianna Fáil TD for South Kildare - and the first woman to be elected to the constituency - hails from a political line stretching back to her grandfather, Joseph O'Loughlin, elected to the first Kildare council in 1898 and a founding member of Fianna Fáil, as well as her own father, Jimmy, a local councillor for 20 years.

And yet there was not a whiff of 'dynasty' about the events that transpired when she asked to be added to the ticket for the General Election.

Sean O'Fearghail, the Fianna Fáil party whip, had been tipped to regain his seat but there was a feeling that there was no room for anyone else, with suggestions that Fiona - a local councillor since 1999 - was merely put in as a 'gender quota' candidate.

In the end, there proved to be plenty of room for two. And in a further footnote, Fiona was elected a full 800 votes ahead of O'Fearghail.

Asked how relations are now between them, Fiona laughs and waves her hands: "Oh, perfect."

Sitting in her office in Newbridge, Co Kildare, surrounded by flowers and cards sent by well-wishers, the 50-year-old former school teacher takes a positive view of the chaos that has emerged from count centres across the country, saying the Dáil will now become a more dynamic place as a result.

She says there is an onus on the 158 people elected to form "some sort of government", adding: "And that's not to push that Fianna Fáil will be part of that."

"The media is trying to push Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael into something and I don't think that space is there," she says.

However, she would like to see her party do a deal with the Social Democrats and "right-minded people" because she doesn't like the "very right-wing attitude of Fine Gael" and "the two-tier recovery they brought in".

Irish Water should never have been set up, she says, saying there was "quite a good system there with local authorities".

Though pro-life, she supports a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment, saying everyone must be free to choose the appropriate decision for them.

Her volunteer work with Special Olympics Ireland will also see her continue as an advocate for people with special needs.

Irish Independent

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