Saturday 14 December 2019

Kerry ignores sly digs and crowns its 'best' men - the Healy-Raes

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Michael and Danny Healy-Rae arrive at the count centre yesterday
morning. Photo: Don MacMonagle
BROTHERS IN ARMS: Michael and Danny Healy-Rae arrive at the count centre yesterday morning. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

It's being dubbed the 'Rae nua' in Irish politics. For the first time in Irish political history, two brothers were elected in the same constituency on the same day.

The people of Kerry spoke clearly and emphatically. The rest of the country can go and hang. The rest of the country and the so-called Dublin intelligentsia can shove their sneers and sly digs. We will vote for the best man - or in this case, men.

Michael Healy-Rae romped home last night with a surplus of over 7,000 votes, more than enough to aid his elder brother, Danny, who had secured over 10,000 first preferences under his own steam.

But it was not just Kerry deciding to vote for the Healy-Raes' just to thumb their noses at the Dublin 4 set.

There were compelling reasons why they voted for the two brothers - lessons the so-called political machines of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour would do well to learn.

The success of the two brothers has been built on the back of a mountain of hard work, 24/7 availability and a fearless determination to do the very best for every constituent.

Denigrated by the rest of the country for the brand of parish-pump politics they're perceived to pedal, the Healy-Raes have built up a well-oiled political machine, powered by a close-knit family and helped by loyal supporters in every corner of the Kingdom.

That included 34 dedicated tallymen keeping track of how votes were falling, with talk of telephone calls being made to supporters to cut short their holidays. In some cases, cars were arranged to take students home to help in the campaign. Each vote mattered.

Although the brothers' pending success became apparent from early in the day, Danny revealed he knew pulling off the impossible was possible.

He told the Sunday Independent that their vote strategy worked, but they had learned from the master - their father, the late Jackie Healy-Rae.

"Our father had us taught about vote management strategies and how important they are," he said.

But he also revealed what the Healy-Raes had over their competitors. "We know the people and the people know us and that's the advantage we have over other politicians because we're on the ground and we know the problems they have."

In true Healy-Rae style, Danny left the count centre to attend four funerals.

While the campaign began for some just three weeks ago, it started for the Healy-Raes after the last general election.

As Michael revealed: "There were three days I wasn't focused and that was when I buried my mother." Julie Healy-Rae passed away in September, just nine months after her husband.

Danny said although he left it to five minutes before the deadline to hand in his nomination papers, it was a move that again seemed to outsmart the competition.

Fianna Fail senator Mark Daly and councillors John Joe Culloty and Niall Kelleher had pleaded with headquarters to be added to the ticket because Killarney was left wide open.

Healy-Rae waited to see if anyone else would announce they were going forward, and when he saw his opportunity he seized it. The move paid off.

Younger brother Michael, a sitting TD, made big inroads into the votes of Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Sinn Fein's Martin Ferris in their own backyards.

But the brothers were keeping tight-lipped on who would replace Danny on Kerry County Council but observers are predicting Danny's daughter Maura could sit alongside her brother Johnny in the chamber.

The next generation of Healy-Raes are waiting in the wings

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News