Tuesday 21 October 2014

Former Tanaiste Mary Coughlan: 'A lot of people would like to see me return to politics'

Geraldine Gittens

Published 23/07/2014 | 12:59

Mary Coughlan

Former Tanaiste Mary Coughlan has said people would like to see her return to politics but she is leaving her political fate in the hands of her party.

The former Donegal TD, who was widowed 18 months after she lost her Dail seat, says she is “a big believer” in letting her party decide whether she’ll run for a seat again.

“I’d have a lot of people who would like to see me back. The party would like to see me back but moreso outside the party, people in my area would like to see me back.”

 “I still enjoy politics. I’m still involved in politics... Fianna Fail has to regroup in order to get back to what was more like our heyday,” she told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning. 

“I’m not sure [if I’ll run again]. It’s not for me at the end of the day. I’m a big believer in what the party decides.”

The Donegal woman said she thought her life would change irrevocably when she lost her Dail seat in 2011.

But losing her husband to cancer 18 months later would have a much deeper impact on her life. David - who Mary described as her “back bone” - died after a battle with cancer on September 2, 2012.

“That was very tough. He was very much part of my life. He was the backbone to my career.

“He passed away and he was just 49 and that was when my life changed. I thought my life changed when I lost the seat, but that was when it really changed.”

Looking back on the demise of her political career, Ms Coughlan said Fianna Fail felt they were left with no choice but to guarantee the banks in 2008.

Cabinet members were pursued by a “herd” of journalists around that time and events were “blown out of proportion”, she said.

“There was a herd running around” asking different Cabinet members the same questions, Ms Coughlan said.

“99.9pc of [what you were asked] had nothing to do with your own department ... you just had to be on your toes.”

“Any slip (mistake) was taken and was blown out of proportion.”

Meanwhile, the current Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is doing a good job, Ms Coughlan said.

“Micheal Martin is doing quite well considering he has a very difficult job... I think he’s been very cool and he’s performing quite well.”

Ms Coughlan, who became a TD aged 21 in 1987, said she hopes more young people will try their hand at politics.

“I hope there are going to be a lot of new faces... I’d like to see a lot more women in my party and in politics.”

“Younger people, men and women, need to get out there.”

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