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Labour hopeful has big shoes to fill

HE has big shoes to fill, but Derek Nolan is already following in the footsteps of the man regarded by all sides as an icon of the Left.

For almost 27 years Michael D Higgins has held the only Labour Party seat in Connacht. A week ago he bade farewell to the Dail and is now setting his sights on succeeding Mary McAleese in Aras an Uachtarain.

The Labour mantle in Galway West now firmly rests on the shoulders of the 29-year-old trainee solicitor who secured a seat on Galway City Council in June 2009. The council was also the stepping stone to greater things for a young Michael D in the 1970s.

Derek Nolan has lost no time in making his pitch to voters. Yesterday he was joined by the man who blazed the trail ahead of him. They both welcomed Ruairi Quinn to town and then the Labour gang headed to the city courthouse to hand in Nolan's nomination papers.

Then it was a quick canvass of Woodquay, one of the older parts of the city.

As a general election rookie, Nolan has been leaving little to chance. At 7am, the daily canvass begins with workers turning up for the early shift at factories in the city.

"On the doorsteps the issues are jobs and emigration, the cuts in people's income and how they're going to pay for their kids in college," Mr Nolan said.

"We're finding people saying 'this is a Labour house' . . . it is very encouraging," said Mr Higgins.

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