THE nationwide resurgence of Sinn Féin has echoed in Kildare South, with Patricia Ryan topping the polls and elected to Dáil Éireann. A great cheer went up from her supporters in Punchestown as the Monasterevin councillor secured the constituency’s first seat on count 6 on Monday morning.
Speaking to the Kildare Nationalist, Ms Ryan – who was elected as a councillor last year – said that she was delighted that the support was there and is “very proud” to be a member of Sinn Féin. She also highlighted the “fantastic” Sinn Féin team.
She noted that there are many issues in Kildare that need to be addressed and which she wants to work on, problems such as housing, people on trolleys in hospitals, women’s health, pensions, mental health and much more.
She added that while canvassing in Milltown shortly before they election, she met a Foróige group with youths who, while they weren’t voting, are the future and had lots of “really interesting questions on climate change”.
“There’s lots of issues there,” she said, noting that “I’m only a new councillor since May, I was daunted by that, I couldn’t say to you I wasn’t, I was there on my own. I felt I was only kind of getting my feet under the table to do my work.”
There was talk around the count centre over the weekend that Ms Ryan – alongside Réada Cronin in Kildare North – could be the first Sinn Féin TDs in the county for over 100 years. A colleague of mine quipped that it was like waiting for a bus – you hang around for an eternity for one and then two come along at once.
A sense of a Sinn Féin victory was in the air at the count centre early on Sunday morning. There had been talk that Fianna Fáil’s Fiona O’Loughlin could top the poll, but a politician I spoke to as the tallies got underway noted that things were very much swinging in favour of Ms Ryan – who continued to top the initial tallies as they were counted and ultimately finished top of that poll on Sunday afternoon.
She was joined on Sunday by Martina Anderson, the former Sinn Féin MEP for Northern Ireland and a former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), who was delighted with her party’s success in the Thoroughbred county.
“I want to congratulate both Patricia and Réada [Cronin] for the sterling work that they have done,” she said. “To have two women coming in to represent Kildare… I hazard a guess that Leinster House in the chamber will hear more about Kildare now than ever they’ve heard before.
“Sinn Fein had a very clear, concise message to the voters and the voters responded to that in the positive manner that they did. And that was quite clearly that we were putting workers and their families first. And we had a vision and set out policies as to how that could be done,” she added. “The people of Ireland are rightly scundered with bankers and global corporations being to the fore of government decisions. And they know that Sinn Fein will put them first.”