Election 2019 home

#Elections2019: Saoirse McHugh is a 'phenomenal person' says election rival Walsh

Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh

Fine Gael MEP candidate Maria Walsh has backed fellow Mayo woman Green Party candidate Saoirse McHugh to make a huge impact in Irish politics, saying she is a "phenomenal person".

The 2014 Rose of Tralee, who early tallies are suggesting could win the second or third of four seats in the Midlands North West constituency, said her rival is some she respects after meeting her on the campaign trail.

Speaking to reporters at the sprawling 13 county's European count centre at the TF Hotel in Castlebar, Co Mayo, on Sunday, Ms Walsh said she ultimately does not want to lose out to anyone.

However, she poured praise on Ms McHugh - who hours earlier said she would quit the Greens if they considered joining with either Fianna Fáil or Ms Walsh's Fine Gael - saying she is an excellent candidate from her own county.

"We crossed paths numerous times in terms of hustings and events, she's a phenomenal person.

I came away from meeting her first and I said to my team that girl deserves a seat because she is not only passionate about the west and north-west but obviously climate running as a green.

"She’s going to make a change.

"If you step out of it and you step away from the fact that I am in opposition and I’m running against her, like you said, two women, two strong women from the west, from Mayo in particular, a younger demographic.

"It’s exciting times when you see that entering into politics and long may it continue. I would hope there might be just another movement in that right throughout the general or the senate runs, that we’d get more people involved.

"If you’re not putting your hands up whatever age you are or wherever you’re from things don’t change and I think Saoirse has proven that getting involved, you can change anything," she said.

Asked if she will feel the same way if Ms McHugh pips her to a seat, Ms Walsh added:

"Look, it was hard to watch Mayo lose against Roscommon last night. It was a point. So I’d never want to see the same thing happen to myself.

"But I guess I’m a realist when it comes to this. I closed the door on Thursday night and I said anything that I could have thrown at this I did. Energy, enthusiasm, videos that didn’t work, some that did work, talking to people, walking with new candidates as well as established.

"And Saoirse did the exact same.

"That’s democracy and whatever may happen."

More on this topic

Call to introduce local election gender quotas

Sinn Féin ard chomhairle meets for 'very honest conversation' after disastrous election performance

Green Party spearheads five-year deal to move Dublin towards 'zero-carbon' status

Opposition to have a say in when Dáil by-elections held