First-time Independent candidate ran Sinnott’s campaign last time

IT’S nearing the final stretch in another gruelling run in a Cork South Central campaign for a candidate from Turner’s Cross.

But rather than the better-known names of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin or Green senator Dan Boyle, it is first-time candidate David McCarthy’s first time to run for office himself.

While never before on the ballot paper, he is all too well known to Mr Martin, after running disability campaigner Kathy Sinnott’s bid for the Dáil in 2002.

Her loss by six votes to Martin’s constituency colleague John Dennehy, after a second recount, ended five days of sweat and near-tears for the then health minister. Mr Martin’s seat in Bertie Ahern’s second Cabinet was rumoured to be under threat if he failed to bring in Dennehy along with himself and then-constituency colleague Batt O’Keeffe.

As the count staff decamped from Cork City Hall’s concert hall to the smaller Millennium Hall in its new wing, the amateur Sinnott camp was given a crash-course in vote watching by then 25-year-old McCarthy.

Over a number of days, under his guidance, they gave the veteran FF tallymen a run for their money on how to question the validity or otherwise of hundreds of ballot papers.

Ms Sinnott eventually only ceded the seat after a second recount, bringing an end to a stretch that had begun with her claiming victory by just three votes in the initial count.

In the meantime, Mr McCarthy has helped former GAA president Sean Kelly get a seat for Fine Gael in Europe in 2009, ironically displacing Ms Sinnott from the MEP role she secured in 2004. He has also been involved with Senator David Norris’s planned bid for the presidency.

The 33-year-old father-of-one now lives in Douglas and runs a communication business with clients in the political, commercial and charity sectors. He has entered the fray on an “Independent for Reform” platform, part of the loose Independent Alliance for Change grouping which has candidates running in Clare, Donegal North East and three other Cork constituencies.

“As an independent candidate, winning a seat in any constituency is difficult under this current system but it is not impossible,” he states on his website.

Mr McCarthy has also been a mental health activist, along with his father John, for Mad Pride Ireland.

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