Newest TD no political novice when it came to campaigning
FINE Gael's Helen McEntee has become the youngest female TD in the Dail in tragic circumstances.
It is just over three months since her father, the highly respected junior minister for agriculture, Shane McEntee, died by suicide.
The 26-year-old was thrust into the middle of an intense by-election campaign, but she had better preparation than other political novices. She had a degree in economics, politics and law from Dublin City University and a master's in journalism. But, more importantly, she had spent two-and-a-half years working in her late father's constituency office.
That background gave her a familiarity with key issues – and meant she avoided making any major slip-ups. And she also quickly got the hang of dealing with voters.
Local Fine Gael Meath West TD Ray Butler said she had "blossomed" during the campaign. "She was very good on the doors and people liked her," he said.
Ms Entee had a simple message for voters – she was devastated by the loss of her father but would endeavour to work as hard as he did.
She benefited from an energised Fine Gael campaign team and the support of her family in general – with her uncle, consultant surgeon and former Meath GAA star Gerry McEntee, out canvassing for her every morning.
Ms McEntee now becomes the youngest female TD in the Dail – and the second youngest TD overall, being several months older than Fine Gael Wicklow TD Simon Harris.