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The Offaly councillor plucked from obscurity


Offaly councillor John Leahy.

Offaly councillor John Leahy.

Offaly councillor John Leahy.

An "indirect approach" by Lucinda Creighton to local councillor John Leahy sprung the Offaly man right on to the national stage yesterday.

For it was he - along with finance specialist Eddie Hobbs - who flanked Ms Creighton as she outlined plans for her new political party.

"I didn't know her personally," Mr Leahy told the Irish Independent. "The approach came indirectly a couple of months before Christmas - when I was talking to a gentleman about political reform."

Mr Leahy (pictured inset)was then asked would he like to meet up with the former Fine Gael junior minister, and they subsequently got together at a "private function" in Dublin.

"She was talking about setting up a new political party and I was very interested at that stage."

Mr Leahy, who was successful in the 2009 local elections, says he has never been a member of a political party.

In his spare time, the married father of two children, aged 18 and 11, works as the Offaly GAA coaching and games promotion officer. His involvement in sport and local community groups was what first persuaded him to run in the local elections.

He then contested the 2011 General Election, standing as an independent, gaining 4,882 votes in the first count.

He was eventually eliminated on the ninth count and failed to win a seat.

"It was probably too early to stand in a general election as I had only just branched out on to the political scene.

"But I wanted to run because I had decided I wanted to be a full-time politician.''

He says a "genuine love of working with people" is his prime motivation for trying to pursue a career in politics.

He said the political options available to him while remaining an independent were limited.

The 36-year-old said he was won over by Ms Creighton's "willingness to listen" and the fact they were "like-minded people".

"There's no other political party that would take a chance in bringing a local politician like myself into the fold in this fashion."

He confirmed he would stand in the next general election.

He said the new party would push for the introduction of tax incentives to encourage businesses located in rural areas.

He maintained that Ms Creighton as a leader of the new party "has the qualities needed in abundance".

Mr Leahy also said she had lost out financially and otherwise because of sticking to her principles. Everybody "in the internal group" had so far put up some of their own money to get the organisation off the ground, he added.

Irish Independent