Monday 18 December 2017

McEntee's daughter urges voters to look beyond name as she runs for dad's seat

Helen McEntee and her uncle Alan at the Fine Gael selection convention in Kells.
Helen McEntee and her uncle Alan at the Fine Gael selection convention in Kells.

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE daughter of the late junior minister Shane McEntee has asked people to "look beyond" her name to see what she can offer as a TD.

Helen McEntee has been selected as the Fine Gael candidate to contest her father's seat in the upcoming Meath East by-election.

She also paid tribute to her father and asked to be allowed "carry on the legacy that my father has left behind".

"I am Shane and Kathleen McEntee's daughter and I will always be proud to hold the McEntee name," Ms McEntee (26) told her party's selection convention last night.

"But I am asking that you look beyond this and see that I am a whole lot more and I can bring so much to this campaign."

But she admitted the by-election will not be easy, and said "people know exactly what kind of a mess this country was left in when Fine Gael took power, but people are still fed up and tired. Some will want to lash out at our current Government."

She called it the "challenge of a lifetime" but insisted she wants "to stand up for a politics that I believe in and that my father believed in".

"I am, of course, devastated by dad's death, but I have never wanted so much to fight for his legacy and to bring my voice to the table as a young woman living in Ireland and in Meath East," Ms McEntee said.

"There will always be an aspect of the sympathy vote in this election, people have shown such loyalty to dad and that is to be admired and every vote we get we will be grateful for, but we do not want to win votes on that basis alone, I want the opportunity to prove that I am worth every single vote because of how I'll work for the people of Meath East."

Ms McEntee was the only candidate to go before the convention, which Taoiseach Enda Kenny attended after returning from Brussels.

Others had signalled their intention to contest if Ms McEntee didn't, but no other names went before delegates in the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells.

The election takes place on March 27, and is widely regarded as a two- horse race between Ms McEntee and Fianna Fail Senator Thomas Byrne.

In her acceptance speech, Ms McEntee recalled her father's hard work, passion for the GAA, IFA, his family and politics.

She highlighted her own education, a degree in economics, politics and law in Dublin City University (DCU) and a master's in journalism and media communications, all before she worked as a parliamentary assistant for her father.

"I inevitably began working with dad. Not because I had to, because I wanted to. He wanted me to see the issues and to witness them firsthand," she said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ms McEntee "in her own right" is a formidable candidate, describing her as a "young woman of great integrity, of great belief and a sense of conviction. We hope to see Helen elected as deputy to continue the work of her late dad here in east Meath."

Irish Independent

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