Saturday 24 February 2018

Tánaiste, TDs to fly to US for Democrats' convention

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Photo: REUTERS/William Philpott
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Photo: REUTERS/William Philpott

Kevin Doyle and Cormac McQuinn

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald will lead a small army of Irish politicians who will decamp to Philadelphia this week to see Hillary Clinton selected as the first female presidential candidate in US history.

Ms Fitzgerald will be joined at the Democratic Party Convention by Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon and Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer.

Meath TD Thomas Byrne will attend on behalf of Fianna Fáil.

Neither of the two main political parties dispatched any Oireachtas members to see Donald Trump endorsed as the Republican candidate last week.

The Tánaiste told the Irish Independent that she finds it "exciting as a woman" to be able to see Ms Clinton nominated.

She will attend the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Leaders' Forum, which runs alongside the Democratic Convention, as will Mr Byrne.

Ms Fitzgerald has been involved with NDI in a voluntary capacity for years, and said: "In 1992, when Hillary Clinton became First Lady, I had just been elected to the Dáil for the first time after chairing the National Women's Council for a number of years.

Outspoken "I remember being very impressed by her because she was outspoken and political. That was totally new for a First Lady then."

Fine Gael said Mr Heydon is officially attending the Democratic Convention on behalf of the party, while Mr Buttimer is on a "personal holiday".

Mr Byrne said he hopes to attend a series of meetings with US politicians, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Philadelphia Congressman Brendan Boyle.

"The last thing we're going to do is involve ourselves in the election over there," he said.

Sinn Féin and the Labour Party are not sending any TDs to Philadelphia.

Irish Independent

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