Monday 26 June 2017

Limerick County: Fiery young gun promises 'I won't be a wallflower if I get into the Dail'

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

He's not a TD yet, but Patrick O'Donovan's only promise to the voters is he won't be toning down his firebrand style.

The Fine Gael candidate is talking about an overall majority for Enda Kenny and says if his party can win a second seat in the Limerick constituency, that majority may be on the cards.

He is unapologetic in his belief a decisive government is required, not a coalition propped up by Independents, some of whom he says "should be in county council chambers -- not the Dail".

"Remember Michael McDowell with: 'single party government, no thanks'. I would say: 'single party government, yes please'," he said.

"This is a national election where local people have national problems," he added.

The 33-year-old teacher has developed a reputation as a straight talker -- epitomised by his victory at the Fine Gael selection convention, when he was given little chance of a nomination but impressed delegates with his energy and approach.

"For the first time in a long time, the party has a chance to win a second seat," he said.

"What separates me from the rest of them is I'm not in this because of a surname or geographic position. The members of my party picked me because of the ability they saw," he added.

Heated

The reference to a "surname" is a less-than-veiled dig at the dynasties in the county.

The heated competition between Mr O'Donovan and his running mate Bill O'Donnell -- a cousin of Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell and nephew of former minister Tom O'Donnell -- has been an interesting sideshow in the campaign.

Mr O'Donovan says his youth is an advantage but can also boast seven years' experience as a county councillor. His base in the west of the constituency is not regarded as ideal, but he says it's not a factor this time.

"People are not really interested in where you are, it's who you are and what you are," he said.

Following the surprise retirement of Fianna Fail's John Cregan, there's a seat up for grabs. Fianna Fail's highly rated TD Niall Collins is expected to be returned, along with Fine Gael TD Dan Neville.

Between them, Fine Gael's line--up of Mr O'Donovan and Mr O'Donnell are the favourites to take the seat.

But Labour's James Heffernan and Independent John Dillon, the former IFA President, are also in serious contention.

Mr O'Donovan says he holds no fears of being silenced on the Government backbenches.

"I won't be a wallflower if I get into the Dail. I don't want to be a career backbencher. I don't stand on ceremony. I don't believe in tipping the cap," he said.





CANDIDATES

FIANNA FAIL

Niall Collins TD

FINE GAEL

Dan Neville TD

Patrick O’Donovan

Bill O’Connell

LABOUR

James Heffernon

GREEN PARTY

Stephen Wall

INDEPENDENT

Joe Bonner

John Dillon

Seamus Sherlock

Patrick O’Doherty

Con Cremin



Last time out

Fianna Fail holds its two seats and Fine Gael one.

Niall Collins continues the family dynasty.

Old Limerick West constituency changed.



THE NUMBERS

SEATS 3

ELECTORATE 64,207

VOTERS PER TD 21,402





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