Saturday 24 February 2018

Candidate who erected no posters and ran campaign on less than €1,000 wins Kilkenny seat

Conor Kane

A complementary health practitioner who erected no posters and spent less than €1,000 on her campaign yesterday became the only independent member of the new Kilkenny County Council.

Breda Gardner won 498 first preference votes in Kilkenny City East but proved “transfer friendly” and ended up with 1,060 votes and was elected on the 12th and last count.

She was one of several first-time candidates to emerge triumphant in that electoral area, with others including David Kennedy of Sinn Féin and Patrick O’Neill of Fine Gael, whose father is senator Pat O’Neill.

Speaking after the counts were concluded, former nurse Breda Gardner said she became a complementary health practitioner after turning to the discipline when she suffered from depression in her 20s. “I couldn’t cope with the side effects of medication so I had to find a natural route to my health and well-being,” she said. “Now I help a lot of people with their problems.”

A mother of four, she said she was persuaded to enter politics by her husband Gerry. “He knew the work that I was doing and I suppose we’re both very community-spirited people.”

One of the phrases she used to describe her work was that “I help people to heal themselves,” and said it’s about helping others to take control of their own problems rather than pleading victimhood. “Empower yourself to become more self-reliant because if you’re just going to be negative, more negative will come to you. If you choose to be positive, more positive will come to you. I’ve been off medication 28 years, if I chose to be the victim I’d probably still be the victim.”

She said that, instead of putting up posters, she decided to “talk to people” door to door to spread her message.

Unusually, Kilkenny will have just one independent on its new county council following the last three days of vote-counting.

Meanwhile, the last seats in the county council were filled just after 6.30pm yesterday (Monday) when Sinn Féin conceded defeat after a day of rechecking votes in the Castlecomer electoral area. Their candidate Catríona Redmond was just 10 votes behind Fianna Fáil’s Michael McCarthy following the ninth count but the party eventually agreed she could not make up the difference and the result was confirmed.

The battle for control of Kilkenny County Council will be interesting as no two parties can form a majority - apart from the Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael combination.

The make-up of the council is: Fianna Fáil 10, Fine Gael 7, Sinn Féin 3, Labour 2, Green 1, Independent 1.

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