Kildare South: First choice Heydon out to get back seat lost by Dukes
THE firing of the official starting gun for the 2011 yesterday made little difference to Martin Heydon.
The 32-year-old farmer from Kilcullen has been on the campaign trail for the past 16 months after becoming the first candidate to be selected by one of the main parties in November 2009.
Fine Gael is hopeful in seeking to win back a seat the party hasn't held since former party leader Alan Dukes lost out in the meltdown of 2002.
After a poor performance in the 2007 General Election, the party targeted the constituency for reorganisation.
The battle for a place on the party ticket was intense, with Mr Heydon seeing off two strong contenders.
Once he was nominated, the warning from party headquarters was clear: either hit the ground running or you'll have a running mate.
"My biggest threat from early on was from within the party. But I wasn't paranoid, looking over my shoulders," he said.
Mr Heydon appears to have won the battle to remain as the party's only candidate in Kildare South -- but he still has to win the seat.
He has made efforts to build his profile outside the area he represents on the county council since the 2009 local elections and is taking nothing for granted.
"An awful lot of people have made their mind up what way they are not going to vote anyway. My biggest difficulty is I'm starting from a very low base.
"Alan Dukes would have been well respected and he was supposed to be a dead cert, but he lost his seat in 2002," he said.
The Dukes family connection still remains, with the former finance minister's wife Fionnuala serving as Fine Gael constituency chairman.
Mr Heydon says having the time to campaign is due to his having a "very understanding girlfriend" -- Kildare inter-county ladies gaelic football player, Brianne Doyle, who is studying pharmacy in Aberdeen.
He feels the local campaign will be dominated by the national issue of unemployment, particularly in Newbridge, with the lack of a ring road around Athy also featuring.
And Mr Heydon reckons Fine Gael is well placed to win with their economic policies.
"I do believe we need a lot of new blood in the Dail. It is a very exciting election to be running in. I think this it will be the most reforming Dail since the foundation of the State," he said.
Fine Gael is by no means guaranteed a seat. The Fianna Fail duo of 'Seans' -- sitting TDs Sean O Fearghail and Sean Power -- are regarded as being neck and neck,
Labour's Jack Wall is also strong and there will be a challenge from Independent Paddy Kennedy.
But all the indicators are that Fianna Fail will only come back with one seat.
Sean Power TD
Sean O Fearghail TD
Cllr Martin Heydon
Jack Wall TD
To be confirmed
Cllr Paddy Kennedy
*More candidates may join race before closing date for nominations
Last time out in 2007
Same result as in 2002.
Fianna Fail’s Sean O Fearghail and Sean Power, along with Labour’s Jack Wall were returned.
Fine Gael’s vote actually dropped.
VOTERS PER TD 19,712