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Thursday 14 December 2017

How TDs' children have staked their own claims

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

NEW Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee became the first candidate for 38 years to win a seat for the party while it was in government.

The last Fine Gael candidate to win in those circumstances was Enda Kenny.

Fine Gael's newest TD and the Taoiseach both ran following the sudden death of their fathers. And judging by past experience of children replacing their father's in by-elections, Ms McEntee has every chance of a long career in the Dail.

There is a long-standing practice of parties wanting to run family members of the former TD as the candidate in the by-elections.

Mr Kenny has gone on to become the current longest-serving TD in the Dail after replacing his father Henry Kenny in 1975.

Leas Ceann Comhairle, Michael Kitt, was first elected to the Dail earlier in 1975 in Galway North-East, following the death of his father, Micheal.

European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn was also elected for the first time on the same day, replacing her father, Johnny.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was first elected when he won a by-election in 1998 following the death of his father, former minister Hugh Coveney.

The legendary Neil T Blaney replaced his father, Neal, in a by-election in Donegal East in 1948. He became a Fianna Fail minister, but was sacked with Charlie Haughey in the Arms Crisis of 1970.

He went on to become the longest-serving TD in the Dail by 1987, under his Independent Fianna Fail banner.

Mr Kenny's predecessor as Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, was also elected in a by-election in Laois-Offaly in 1984, following the death of his father, Ber.

But running a son or daughter isn't always a recipe for success in a by-election.

The most recent example was former Fianna Fail minister Seamus Brennan's son, Shay, being defeated by Fine Gael's George Lee in Dublin South in 2009.

Irish Independent

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