New faces for Fianna Fáil to make mark around the country

Lorraine Clifford-Lee with her daughter Kitty

The last election was a wipe-out in many areas for Fianna Fáil as the nation took their fury out on the party.

This time around, they will be hoping to regain some lost seats and this, coupled with the quota for female candidates, means there are a significant number of new faces on constituency tickets across the country.

A number of these candidates will be hoping to become prominent household names in the lifetime of the next government.

Being in the Taoiseach’s constituency has not discouraged Lisa Chambers from seeking a seat in Mayo.

Addressing her main opposition of three sitting Fine Gael TDs, Ms Chambers said: “The feeling in Mayo is that we have been left behind in this recovery. We hear all this talk about emigration out of the country; what about the emigration to the east?”

Although she said “there is no politics in my house” she still managed to become the first female chair of her local Cumman at the age of 22. The barrister ran in the last race to the Dáil but, at a time when even party stalwarts were being decimated in the polls, she did not expect to gain a seat, but this time around is different.

“I would love the justice portfolio, that would be a huge passion of mine,” she said. “Obviously I have huge passion for the law and the justice system. But similarly I have 14 years’ service in the defence forces and I would have keen interest in defence policy, but I am also interested in health and education.”

Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has been canvassing in some of the worst-affected areas of the recent storms in West Cork.

“They just feel very let down that this could have been prevented, or definitely the extent of if could have been prevented,” she said of flood-hit towns such as Bandon and Skibbereen.

She was on Bandon town council for a decade before being elected to the county council and always had ambitions for the Dáil as she believes more can be done through Leinster House for local communities.

As a mother of a young child, childcare is a major issue for Lorraine Clifford-Lee personally, but is also heard on a large proportion of doors in her Dublin Fingal constituency.

“Politics needs more young people involved in it, we need both men and women with various experience and various backgrounds,” said Ms Clifford-Lee, who joined Fianna Fáil at the age of 15.

“I suppose it is a big undertaking with a young child but I feel it’s a necessary undertaking as well. I feel younger parents need to get elected to the Dáil,” she said.

Jack Chambers may have been an unexpected selection at the party’s Dublin West constituency last year when he defeated prominent councillor David McGuinness — who has since joined the Independent Alliance — to be added to the ticket. Since then he has worked hard and has reopened the late Brian Lenihan’s constituency office, where he holds regular clinics.

Waterford candidate Mary Butler will be hoping to claw back one of the many seats lost by the party in 2011.

“We were toxic,” she said. “I firmly believe there is a seat in Waterford for Fianna Fáil.”

But her ambitions do not end at a Dáil seat, as she sees herself at a future cabinet table and would relish the transport portfolio. She believes the constituency has suffered because of strong ministerial representation from neighbouring counties

A major local issue is Waterford Hospital, which has seen a cut in hours to its cardiac care times, which she will be campaigning on.

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