The Sinn Féin candidate who is making a name for herself

Lynn Boylan is a mystery candidate, but has rocketed to the top of the polls

Sinn Féin European election candidate for Dublin Lynn Boylan on the canvass with voter Jim O’Connor in Tallaght yesterday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Sinn Féin European election candidate for Dublin Lynn Boylan on the canvass with voter Jim O’Connor in Tallaght yesterday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Thu, May 22, 2014, 15:08

Who is Lynn Boylan/Ni Bhaoigheallain? She is the mystery woman who, in the short course of this European election campaign, has rocketed so far up the opinion polls that she seems a dead cert to take a seat for Sinn Féin in Dublin.

But who is she? Where did she come from? What has she done to emerge from political obscurity a couple of months ago to become the bookie’s favourite? Her electoral track record yields no clues. Boylan, or Lynn Ní­ Bhaoighealláin as she was known, contested the 2007 general election for Sinn Féin in Kerry South and in 2009, she ran in the local elections in Killarney.

Ni Bhaoigheallain was eliminated on the first count in the national poll and came in ninth out of 12 candidates in the locals. An ecologist and UCD graduate, she worked with the Kerry Parks and Wildlife Services until returning to Dublin five years ago to take up a job in Ballymun. Last September, Lynn Ni’Bhaoigheallain was selected to contest the European elections.

Sometime after that, she reverted to Lynn Boylan. This is a move Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O’Cuiv might appreciate. In the last general election, Crafty Cuiv dropped the “O” from his name and shot up the ballot paper listings to the top spot. But Sinn Féin, as Lynn told us yesterday while out canvassing in her native Tallaght, is not like other parties. “I’m Boylan. When I moved to Kerry I changed it – for no reason in particular, other than I have an aspiration to be fluent in the language. I suppose I liked the idea of using the language in any way I can. . . But nobody would recognise my Irish name here.”

Language is hugely important to Sinn Féin. Take the party’s line on the EU. The biggest criticism levelled against SF by its political opponents is that they oppose almost everything in Europe. And the unkindest cut of all are the comparisons with Britain’s Ukip. Boylan repeats the line, first unveiled at the party’s Euro manifesto launch by her partner, Councillor Eoin O’Broin, when outlining their policies.

Sinn Féin is neither Europhile nor Eurosceptic. “The way we look at is: Sinn Féin is Eurocritical” says Lynn.

Meteoric rise Still, we puzzle at her meteoric rise. Might it be the Sinn Féin brand, which appears to be sweeping up all around it. Perish the thought. It’s not the brand, says the candidate, it’s the message. On the doors, she points out, people are saying they like the Sinn Féin message and the work being done by their TDs. That work ethic is strong and incredibly disciplined. It’s also financially underpinned for the fortunate candidates.

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