FG candidate tells of heartbreak over brother's Aids death
Fine Gael's candidate in the Carlow Kilkenny by-election has told how he has been inspired by the heartbreak of his brother who tragically died of Aids almost two decades ago.
David Fitzgerald said his brother, who was gay and contracted HIV in the 1980s, would have campaigned for constitutional recognition for same sex couples if he was still alive today.
"I have said at the very start of this campaign that I was voting Yes in honour of his memory," Mr Fitzgerald told the Irish Independent.
"He was my godfather and I was very close to him, particularly in his latter years, and I know if he was alive today he would be out canvassing for a Yes vote so I am doing this in his honour," he added.
Mr Fitzgerald was speaking as Fine Gael sent party big guns Justice Minister France Fitzgerald and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan to Kilkenny for a final push to get the party's candidate over the line as the gap narrowed on Fianna Fail.
Mr Flanagan said he believed that Mr Fitzgerald, who Paddy Power has at 9/4 to win, has "very good chance" of topping the poll.
"We weren't favourites at the start but our odds have shortened considerably," Mr Flanagan told the Irish Independent yesterday.
"We want a good first-count vote and we believe we can win it thereafter from the transfers," he added.
Renua candidate Pat McKee has been making ground in recent days and has overtaken Sinn Fein's Kathleen Funchion in the bookmaker's odds.
Mr McKee said that he was quietly confident ahead of the vote, while supporters said Lucinda Creighton's candidate had managed to shore up a lot of support in Kilkenny City, which may come at the expense of Fine Gael.
Mr McKee, who is gay and organised a 'Yes' campaign in Kilkenny, insisted that he was not disappointed that his party decided not to take a stance on the same-sex marriage referendum.
"I'm confident the referendum will pass but I think it's healthier that parties have free votes on issues of conscience," he said.
The bookies favourite - Fianna Fail candidate Bobby Aylward - was not available for comment yesterday as his phone was dead, according the party's director of elections Barry Cowen.
However, Mr Cowen said he was confident that Mr Aylward, whom he described as the "unsophisticated and authentic" candidate would lead until the end.
He said Mr Aylward would be voting for the change to the constitution but said he had "reservations" due to his "Catholic upbringing".