FG's new lady on block tears strip off 'sanctimonious' Lucinda
The mood was buoyant, giddy almost. Fine Gael's party faithful can almost taste victory. But with one hand on the prize, they still have time to settle a few old scores.
Councillor Kate O'Connell was the name on everyone's lips at the CityWest Hotel on Friday night.
Tipped as the one to watch, the pharmacist is blazing a trail on the election campaign, forging a strong working relationship with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
If he had plucked her from a tree himself, the Fine Gael leader couldn't have picked a better candidate to replace Lucinda Creighton after her opposition to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
And, this weekend, O'Connell had a word of advice for her Renua adversary. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, she said: "We are the same age. I was born on 3rd January and she was born on the 20th January of 1980 and yet I don't see how she represents me and my age group. In fact, I resent the fact that she thinks she represents my generation of women. I don't want to be governed by laws created by a bunch of dead men.
"She is incredibly sanctimonious and she needs to get off her high horse. Who is she to judge me and my generation? Or any woman for that matter?"
A mother of three young children - all under five, including a 14-week-old baby - the pharmacist regularly sees women in a state of distress, seeking information on how to travel to the UK for an abortion.
"I saw one young woman recently who told me she had to scrape the money together from her boyfriend's mother, her own mother and a friend. The indignity of that it horrendous."
She also has had first-hand experience of facing the choice to travel to the UK after being told her unborn child had a 10pc chance of survival. She went through with the pregnancy and gave birth to a much-loved baby boy.
Describing Ms Creighton as "out of touch", Ms O' Connell continued: "She is a career politician who has effectively gone straight from university to politics. What interface has she had with reality?
"I'm exposed every day, as a community pharmacist, to what's going on in the world. There's no love lost for her in this party."
Asked how she would view a coalition between Renua and Fine Gael, Ms O'Connell said "Enda is the boss" but added that he would be "mad" to let Ms Creighton join in any coalition.
"Remember, the country was going down the tubes when (she left) and the Government was trying to keep us on the road to recovery and to keep the show on the road, so for her to throw her toys out of the pram like that was irresponsible and potentially destructive to stability.
"I would be horribly disappointed if that (coalition with Renua) were to happen and I think the women of the constituency would be horribly disappointed. She will be forever tied to it and no one will ever forget why she left the party, particularly women."
Meanwhile, the excitement of the coming election was palpable. Cork East TD Tom Barry said: "It's an extraordinary time. The country is in very safe hands. Another two years and the country will be on such a trajectory we will be unstoppable."
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