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FF newbie Aoife Byrne's controversial selection


Aoife Byrne

Aoife Byrne

Cllr Michael Sheehan

Cllr Michael Sheehan


Aoife Byrne

THE selection of Aoife Byrne as the third Fianna Fáil party candidate in the upcoming General Election has led to a strong reaction within the party.

Originally from Fethard on Sea, Ms Byrne, 37, believes she will bring a fresh dynamic to politics in the county.

This newspaper broke the story that she was being considered to run for the party and having been chosen she said she will work hard to try to win a seat in the election.

Ms Byrne, who is the daughter of former Fianna Fáil TD Hugh, said: 'The National Constituencies Committee made the decision and they informed me on Friday afternoon. It was quite overwhelming and I am absolutely honoured to have been chosen to represent Fianna Fáil in the south of the county. It's something I have always thought about and I firmly believe that change is needed within Irish politics. It's 1997 since a female candidate from Wexford (Avril Doyle) was returned to the Dáil.'

Ms Byrne has lived in Wexford town for the past 15 years and worked in New Ross for several years as an auctioneer.

She said: 'During that time, I have had significant involvement with local business, arts, community and sporting organisations. This experience has given me a first-hand knowledge of the make-up and needs of the people of south county Wexford.'

Ms Byrne said she has always been a party member.

'I wasn't as involved for a few years because I became disillusioned with the party, but I have been back in the party for a number of years in Wexford. Previously I was a member in the New Ross district.'

Ms Byrne was chosen ahead of sitting county councillors Michael Sheehan, Michael Whelan and Barbara Anne Murphy.

She joins a new look Fianna Fáil party ticket, alongside Cllr Malcolm Byrne and Cllr James Browne.

Ms Byrne said the reaction to her selection has been 'hugely positive'.

'A lot of people approached me from both New Ross and Wexford after the convention as there were concerns that the south of the county wasn't going to be represented and they thought I offered an alternative to the traditional party ticket. When the opportunity arose I certainly took it. The party needs to be really diverse and I have real life experience having gone through the recession. I was running my auctioneering business in New Ross and we had to close. I studied and achieved an MBA and I did a Job Bridge scheme and once I graduated I secured a full time job with AIB.'

Describing herself as a woman of integrity and determination, Ms Byrne said she will give her campaign 100 per cent. She said Cllr Michael Sheehan has been left frustrated and disappointed by the party's decision, adding, 'but at the same time we need to embrace change. Parliament needs to become more inclusive and gender quoatas are a first step.'

Unemployment, better education and services, are among her policy issues if elected.

A Fianna Fáil party member, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'Her father endorsed Michael Sheehan earlier this year and now she's running, which is peculiar. You have to admire her for wanting to do it. There was at least some logic to splitting the county into an east/west divide but this has unravelled that. I don't see this move as improving the party's chances of winning a second seat.'

Cllr Michael Sheehan said he has been disrespected by the party he has worked so hard for over 20 years, saying people are left baffled by the decision.

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