Wednesday 29 March 2017

Cork North-West: First-timer knows that job creation holds the key

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

GIVEN it's her first run out as a candidate, Aine Collins can't compare how her campaign is going to previous occasions.

But the new Fine Gael candidate for Cork North West said the only way to get elected is to hit the doorsteps and learn what people are feeling.

"There's a lot of fear out there. This last charge, the Universal Social Charge, is really hurting people. Everybody has their own concerns," she said.

Her background as an accountant and a consultant working with small businesses puts her in a strong position in a general election where jobs is the top issue nationwide.

"The biggest issue is job creation. I am very confident in that area," she said.

"I think when people are so busy in business, they don't know where to go and get assistance," she said.

The 41-year-old mother of three -- a 20-year-old and two infants aged three and two -- said the country can't rely upon an influx of multinationals and must assist local business.

Ms Collins wants to see a greater emphasis put on the agri-food sector and spin off industries, a widening of the Business Expansion Scheme and a greater use of mentoring programmes to advise people in small businesses.

She points to the administration of the health and social welfare systems as examples of where efficiencies, use of technology and streamlining can be introduced.

When she was nominated last year, with sitting TD Michael Creed, Ms Collins was a favourite to win a seat from Fianna Fail.

But then former minister Batt O'Keeffe retired and Fine Gael added Derry Canty at the more populated end of the constituency.

Fine Gael is still tipped to win a second seat, with Labour's Martin Coughlan having an outside shot, but it's anybody's bet who will win it.

As a former member of the Fine Gael national executive, Ms Collins knows how candidate strategy decisions are taken.

"It would be great if there were only two seats but that's up to the powers that be," she said.

Fianna Fail's Michael Moynihan is expected to hold his seat with the assistance of his running mate Daithi O Donnabhain.

CANDIDATES

FIANNA FAIL

Michael Moynihan TD

Daithi O Donnabhain

FINE GAEL

Michael Creed TD

Aine Collins

Derry Canty

LABOUR

Martin Coughlan

GREEN PARTY

Mark Collins

SINN FEIN

Des O’Grady

PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT

ALLIANCE

Anne Foley

LAST TIME OUT

? Constituency redraw brings Batt O’Keeffe in, leaving four TDs fighting for three seats

? O’Keeffe sees off Donal Moynihan, with Michael Moynihan holding on

? Fine Gael’s Michael Creed wins seat at the expense of party colleague

THE NUMBERS

? SEATS 3

? ELECTORATE 62,129

? VOTERS PER TD 20,709

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