Sunday 25 February 2018

A doctor in the House: Michael Harty wins Clare seat on GP issue

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Dr Michael Harty took the second seat

Gordon Deegan

'No Doctor, No Village' candidate Dr Michael Harty will be brought back down to earth this morning from the weekend delirium that marked his election as a TD in Clare.

Dr Harty will be treating the aches and ailments of his patients at his Kilmihil surgery. It will give him little time to reflect on his stellar performance that saw him grab the second seat in Clare.

Working as a GP in west Clare for the past 32 years and aged 63, Dr Harty was contemplating his radical career departure in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He said that "my one regret" in securing a seat "will be no longer treating my patients - and I think the feeling is mutual".

He said: "I have mostly an elderly population - people with complex illnesses, with complex diseases - that is what I specialise in.

"To move into an area looking after people in a different way will be strange for me, but I feel I can do it and I feel that we have a message that is worth fighting for."

Dr Harty said he will get a locum to operate the practice and he will retain a supervisory role. He stressed: "My income from the practice will be zero."

A political novice, Dr Harty said that he had never been to an election count before, after receiving a rapturous welcome on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, an emotional Joe Carey (FG) spoke of going to his mother's grave on Saturday "to have a word with her".

He managed to hold on to his seat but admitted the polls told another story in the run-up to the vote.

He travelled out to Cree in west Clare for a month's mind for a deceased party colleague, before finally arriving into the count through a side door just before 2am on Sunday morning.

Mr Carey said it was "a serious achievement" for Fine Gael to retain two seats with only 26pc of the vote.

He said that a local poll one week before the election that wrote off his chances had "galvanised my campaign".

Meanwhile a despondent Michael McNamara of Labour said at the count yesterday that he doesn't know if he will remain in politics after losing his seat.

Mr McNamara was eliminated after the 11th count and revealed that his parents are both hospitalised, making the campaign very tough for personal reasons.

He said: "It was an incredibly tough campaign for a variety of reasons, including the fact that both of my parents are hospitalised and are in hospitals as we speak.

"I want to thank hospital staff in both St Joseph's and the County Hospital in Ennis for the care they are giving to them," he said.

Irish Independent

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