McFadden ratified as FG candidate in Longford-Westmeath

Councillor dismisses dynasty building suggestions, saying ‘public service is in my DNA’

Fine Gael byelection candidate Cllr Gabrielle McFadden has rejected suggestions of dynasty building as she was formally ratified at the Longford-Westmeath selection convention tonight.

The Athlone-based councillor, who has vacated her council seat to run in the byelection caused by the death in March of her sister Nicky McFadden, said there had been much “clichéd commentary about political dynasties”.

She and her two sisters grew up in a political household as her father Brendan was a county councillor for 25 years. “No one raises an eyelid when a doctor’s daughter becomes a doctor, or a lawyer’s son becomes a lawyer. I am proud to say that like my father and my two sisters, public service, not self-service, is in my DNA,” she said.

She was speaking at the convention in Mullingar Park Hotel attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny who also met a number of local councillors and other candidates.


Mr Kenny told the convention that “tragic circumstances have brought us here this evening, our beloved Nicky left us far too early. Nicky was an outstanding TD for Longford-Westmeath and Gab is an excellent candidate to continue her good work. For the last five years Gab has been serving her constituents as a dedicated councillor and most recently as a very active and determined mayor of Athlone.” Wishing her the best for the campaign he said “I hope I will be greeting her in a few weeks’ time as Longford-Westmeath’s newest TD”.

Ms McFadden spoke of her sister’s struggle with motor neurone disease, following her diagnosis in 2012, and said she refused to be defined by it. “When her voice went and she could not longer walk, I was proud to step up to the mark and to continue the important business of representing the people of Longford and Westmeath.”

A councillor for five years, Ms McFadden said that during the later stages of her sister’s illness she acted for her in raising parliamentary questions, making representations to Ministers on behalf of the Midlands. “I ran Nicky’s clinics for her, meeting a slew of constituents and dealing effectively with the issues they raised. I know the work a TD does. I am ready to hit the ground running.”

A former bank official, Ms McFadden reiterated that she was fulfilling a promise to her sister by putting her name forward. The late TD died in March after being diagnosed in 2012 with motor neurone disease and her month’s mind mass was said on Saturday. The full-time councillor is married with two teenage children.

Her campaign manager, Minister of State Ciarán Cannon described the candidate as an extremely capable politician with “first-hand experience of the real issues facing families and people in Longford and Westmeath”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times