Profiles of Labour Deputy contenders

A close look at Sean Sherlock, Alan Kelly and Michael McCarthy

Profiles of Labour Deputy contenders

Sean Sherlock

Cork East TD Sean Sherlock, 41, has been minister of state for research and innovation at the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, and at the Department of Education and Skills since March 2011. Educated at the Patrician Academy in Mallow and the College of Commerce in Cork, he has a degree in economics and politics from UCG.

A son of the late former councillor and TD Joe Sherlock, Sean’s first involvement in politics was serving a six-month internship with Proinsias De Rossa MEP, which led to a full-time job as Mr De Rossa’s assistant.

In 2002, he worked as election manager for his father’s bid for a Dáil seat for Labour — an election Joe went on to win.

When the dual mandate was abolished in 2003, Joe had to vacate his seats on Mallow Town Council and Cork County Council and Sean was co-opted to both of those in September of that year.

He retained the seats in the local elections in 2004, and went on to serve as mayor of Mallow the same year.

When Joe announced that he would not be contesting the 2007 general election, Sean was chosen as the replacement candidate and was elected. He was subsequently appointed Labour’s spokesman on agriculture and food and was outspoken on a range of issues including the Irish sugar industry and Mallow hospital.

He contested the 2011 general election, topping the poll. His junior ministerial appointment followed a short time later.

In January 2012, he proposed legislation to give copyright holders the right to seek an injunction against copyright violators, a move opposed by Stop Sopa Ireland (Stop Online Piracy Act).

The government said the legislation was needed to close a loophole after a High Court case in 2010 and Sherlock signed the legislation into law in February 2012 citing Ireland’s “obligations under EU law”.

He is a member of Blackwater Kayaking Club, Mallow Rugby Club, and the Mountaineering Club of Ireland.

— Eoin English

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly’s bid for a leadership position in the Labour Party comes as no surprise.

Eamon Gilmore’s camp were keeping a watch on the Tipperary North TD’s intentions towards the end of last week, as the election drubbing for the party unfolded.

The former senator and MEP is an electioneering “master”, backbenchers privately say. His addition to the leadership bid of Joan Burton, who he singled out for praise yesterday, could help seal the deal for the two for a smooth takeover of the battered party.

Mr Kelly has been in the party since he was 16. A former chair of Labour Youth, the 38-year-old is married to Regina O’Connor. They have two kids under 4.

As an MEP, he was a member of internal market committee of European Parliament and he was also previously the former honorary president of the Dell workers association.

He had promised that he would see out his five-year tenure in Europe, but then allowed his name go forward as a Labour Party candidate at the 2011 general election.

The now junior transport minister oversaw integrated transport ticketing with the leap card. He also secured sponsorship for Cork, Limerick, and Galway bike schemes and carried out reforms and legislation in both the taxi sector and rural transport programme.

With a BA from UCC, he then went on to complete an M.Phil in Political History. He continued his education at Boston College and later returned to Ireland after to complete an MBS in eCommerce in 2002. He subsequently worked as an ebusiness manager with Bord Fáilte and Fáilte Ireland.

— Juno McEnroe

Michael McCarthy

Michael McCarthy will probably point to his record of building a base outside his party’s heartland to support his campaign in the Labour Party’s deputy leadership race.

McCarthy is from Dunmanway and entered politics in 1999 when he joined Cork County Council for the Skibbereen area. He was elected to the Seanad three years later and carved out a good reputation within his party and Leinster House.

In 2011, his Dáil election, at the third attempt, was one of the most obvious signs of a potentially lasting Labour Party breakthrough as he finally broke up a rural three-seat constituency dominated by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. His 9% showing in 2002 and 14% in 2007 reflected the temporary surge in support for the party.

Like many younger TDs to win seats under the Gilmore Gale, he had to content himself with a place on the back benches as the old guard hoarded the spoils.

Mr McCarthy was eventually given a chairmanship of the Environment committee in 2012 when a mini party reshuffle was required to make amends for rebel members.

He is also involved in organising committees within Leinster House and sits on the Public Accounts Committee, but has not used it to build his profile in the way that some of his colleagues have. The only recent blot on his copy book was his role, as an excellent mimic, in a badly-timed prank which saw him pretend to be a pizza delivery company offering a free slice to TD Mattie McGrath during a sit-in at a bank.

Mr McCarthy is married to Nollagh Patterson. They have two sons, Odhran and Fionnan.

He would have been hoping to dig in for a long-term seat in Cork South West, but last weekend gave him a firm indication of the difficulty he faces when the general election rolls around, unless his party’s fortunes are reversed.

His sister, Norma Thomson, was the only Labour Party candidate in a 19-candidate field in West Cork and she finished second last on the first count with just 2% of the vote.

She was outflanked on the left by both Sinn Féin and the People Before ProfitAlliance.

— Conor Ryan

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