It took 21-hours to count 75,000 ballot papers cast in Saturday’s General Election with 15 candidates hoping for one of the five seats on offer for the next session of Dáil Éireann. The atmosphere never came close to that of former years when the place would be buzzing, and the attendance was controlled.
All the major media outlets were ably represented – television, radio, print media, so there was massive public interest, and I had one of the best seats in the house overlooking the proceedings on the busy floor of the Count Centre. So, what was it really all about? Well, to me it was about sending five competent people to Dáil Éireann to represent all that is good for Wexford and its people. The public made their selection and the outcome was nothing if not representative, one from Sinn Féin, one from Fianna Fáil, one from Fine Gael, one from The Labour Party and an Independent candidate, and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will put Wexford first, and if they don’t, another election will come round!
So, let’s meet the ‘famous five’.
JOHNNY MYTHEN, Sinn Féin. From Ballyorril, near Enniscorthy, Johnny served on Enniscorthy Town Council and was its last Cathaoirleach when town councils were abolished in 2014, served a term on Wexford County Council until last year’s election when he lost his seat in the Enniscorthy district. Made the headlines when he came within 32 votes of securing a seat in the 2016 General Election. This time he headed the poll with a quota and a half. He now has the perfect platform to deliver on his election promise “to be a champion for the people of Wexford.”
VERONA MURPHY, Independent. Daughter of a farmer from Ramsgrange Verona became a household name when the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Party ‘disowned’ her following controversial remarks first quoted in the national media before last November’s by-election. She was ‘silenced’ and disallowed from media interviews, but she polled well on the day and vowed to fight another day as an Independent and now she is the people’s choice and is on her way to Dáil Éireann. Verona promises to be “the voice for rural Wexford” with special interest in farming, fishing, haulage and tourism issues.
JAMES BROWNE, Fianna Fáil. John Browne from Enniscorthy was a TD for Wexford for 34 years and was replaced by his son, James, who was successful in the 2016 General Election. James is a qualified barrister. He was promoted to Fianna Fail spokesperson on Mental Health and has been vocal almost on a weekly basis in a quest for the reform of mental health services, including the Mental Health (Amendment) Act 2018 and the Oireachtas committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare. Although centrally located in Enniscorthy, James is constantly interacting with communities of local matters that arise across the entire county.
BRENDAN HOWLIN, Labour Party. Currently Leader of The Labour Party, Brendan Howlin, is one of the nation’s best-known politicians, from his Wexford town origins, becoming Mayor of Wexford in 1986 and elected to Dáil Éireann fo the first time the following year. He held a number of ministeries including Public Expenditure and Reform, Minister for the Environment from 1994 to 1997 and Minister for Health, 1993-1994. He supported the development of Wexford General Hospital, is campaigning for “the proper development of Rosslare Europort.”
PAUL KEHOE, Fine Gael. First elected in 2002, Paul replaced Ivan Yates in the Enniscorthy district and has been successful in all of his four General Election campaigns. He claims to have ring-fenced over €60m for flood defence schemes at Enniscorthy and New Ross and was instrumental in bringing the by-passes at Enniscorthy and New Ross to fruition. Son of a farmer from Bree, near Enniscorthy, Paul prides himself on his constituency services care of his office staff at Enniscorthy and New Ross and prioritises issues such as housing and health.