Nicky McFadden inspired sister to run in bye-election
THE sister of the late Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden told how she had been inspired by her sibling's battle as she was selected to contest the election for the party.
Speaking at the selection convention in Co Westmeath, Taoiseach Enda Kenny called on "the people of Longford and Westmeath to continue in the great tradition of the McFaddens".
Mayor of Athlone Gabrielle McFadden is the bookies' favourite to win the seat vacated by the death of her sister Nicky in the upcoming Longford/Westmeath by-election.
Nicky was just 51 when she died last March following a battle with motor neurone disease. Before Nicky's death, Gabrielle promised her sister she would run for her seat in any possible by-election.
The McFadden family are Fine Gael stalwarts and well known in Athlone.
Gabrielle's late father Brendan, who died last year, also served as mayor of Athlone.
"As Gabrielle McFadden herself said, this was not a seat that was given to her by right," the Taoiseach pointed out.
"It was was given to Nicky, God rest her, and Gabrielle made a promise to her, her last promise she made to her, that she would stand and contest in her place."
Ms McFadden said she was delighted to be formally ratified. "At the outset of my campaign, it is important to state that I will be vacating my council seat to concentrate exclusively on the by-election campaign in order to retain a strong Dail mandate, as Nicky had done," she explained.
"Over the last five years, I have worked tirelessly as a full-time politician and, as I have always done, I will continue to be a voice for ordinary people in the Midlands.
"As I now begin my campaign, I'm looking forward to meeting as many people as possible over the next three weeks right across the constituency," she added.
According to the director of elections, Minister for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon, the councillor is an "extremely capable politician and has first-hand experience of the real issues facing families and people".
Ms McFadden's toughest competition is likely to come from another well-established political family in Athlone in the form of Mary O'Rourke's son, Cllr Aengus O'Rourke.
Athlone is shaping up as the key battleground for the by-election, with Sinn Fein Cllr Paul Hogan also running for the seat.
Other candidates so far announced in the Longford/ Westmeath by-election include Brian Fagan and independent John McNamara.