Meath West: Economics graduate confident SF figures will add up
SINN Fein councillor Peadar Toibin is in a battle to win the last seat in the constituency which has been thrown wide open by the departure of the dominant political figure, former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.
He is representing a party often accused of economic illiteracy -- but has an economics and politics degree from UCD and an enterprise postgrad from the Michael Smurfit School of Business.
"I'm the only person from that background standing in this election -- the other people I'm against are teachers, barmen and journalists. I think it's important to have economic know-how," he said.
A business start-up consultant, Mr Toibin (36) is a strong defender of his party's economic policy of "burning the bondholders" and has welcomed Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness joining him on the canvass. But he is hoping those who would have previously not voted for Sinn Fein because of links to the IRA will now do so.
"There is no doubt that certain sections of the population are more open to myself and the likes of Pearse Doherty because we bring a new perspective and a youthful element to the actual campaign," he said.
Mr Toibin set up a broad-based "Save Navan Hospital" campaign which got 10,000 people on to the streets of Navan last October to protest against HSE plans to withdraw the hospital's A&E service.
Fine Gael is set to take at least one seat through its sitting TD Damien English. He has two running mates, primary teacher Catherine Yore and Trim-based Cllr Ray Butler, who was added to the ticket to pick up some of the votes in Noel Dempsey's former base.
Fianna Fail's Johnny Brady was already under pressure -- and he made things worse for himself by complaining that every month his wife has to ask him when the next cheque from his €92,000 Dail salary is coming "as the bank is running low".
His running mate is Navan-based Cllr Shane Cassells (a journalist) but nobody expects Fianna Fail to hold onto 52pc of the vote from last time out.
Those expected to be in the battle for the last seat include Cllr Toibin, Fine Gael's Yore and Butler, and Labour's candidate Cllr Jenny McHugh.
Johnny Brady TD
Cllr Shane Cassells
Damien English TD
Cllr Catherine Yore
Cllr Ray Butler
Cllr Jenny McHugh
Cllr Peadar Toibin
Last time out
? Former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey topped the poll in 2007 with more than 12,000 votes
? The status quo was maintained with his running mate Johnny Brady and Fine Gael’s Damien English both getting re-elected
? But Fine Gael’s ‘celebrity candidate’, Meath footballer Graham Geraghty, missed out as did Sinn Fein’s Joe Reilly
? SEATS 3
? ELECTORATE 62,056
? VOTERS PER TD 20,685