News Elections

Thursday 28 August 2014

Husband of right-to-die campaigner Marie Fleming fails to win Wicklow council seat

Stephen Dunne

Published 26/05/2014 | 17:09

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Marie Fleming with her partner Tom Curranat at their home in Co Wiclkow
Marie Fleming with her partner Tom Curranat at their home in Co Wiclkow

Right-to-die campaigner Tom Curran, whose partner Marie Fleming passed away late last year, said his election campaign had been “emotionally difficult” after he lost out by just ten votes on the final council seat in Wicklow.

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Amid emotional scenes in Greystones today, Curran, who announced his candidacy just two months after the death of Fleming, a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer who failed with a Supreme Court bid to change the law on assisted suicide, conceded defeat to Mary McDonald of Sinn Fein.

On Sunday night, Curran, whose campaign was backed by Independent TD for Wicklow Stephen Donnelly, requested a recount. Tom Murphy, the returning officer, carried out a recount of first preferences and at around 4.30pm yesterday (Monday) Curran and his campaigners conceded that a win was unlikely with the recount showing no major errors. Murphy announced the 10th and final count shortly after.

Speaking afterwards, Curran said he was unprepared for the way people spoke about Marie during his campaign.

“It stupidly never occurred to me that people would want to talk about Marie,” he said.

“I thought that other local issues would come up. I didn’t even think that people would recognise me but people did and it was their opportunity to give Marie praise.”

Curran said the campaign was “emotionally difficult” but added that he was proud of his result despite losing out on the final Arklow seat.

“It took its toll on me. The more I got out their, the more I began to miss Marie even more. Every night I would come back from campaigning and I would be absolutely devastated,” he said.

When asked what he will take from the campaign, Curran said he would remember the support expressed by people for himself and his late partner.

“I’m just sorry that I’m not there to do the peoples’ work.”

Curran added that he would now take some time to himself. “I can get back to taking some time to myself and grieve for Marie which is something that I haven’t had the opportunity to do yet.”

He added that he would return to campaigning for carers in the future.

Reflecting on the loss, Donnelly said that Curran can be “incredibly proud” of his election effort.

“We’re very disappointed. I really do think that Tom would have made a great councillor for the people of south Wicklow. But so be it, the people have spoken.”

Curran had shown “incredible strength of character” to run in a local election, Donnelly added.

Also elected yesterday in the Arklow ward were Miriam Murphy (Ind) and Sylvester Bourke (FG), while Pat Fitzgerald (FF), Pat Kennedy (FF) and Tommy Annesley (FF) made it a terrific return for Fianna Fail in south Wicklow.

Overall, the picture in Wicklow at the conclusion of the three-day count was 10 Ind, 8 FG, 7 FF, 6 SF and 1 GP.

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