BY JACKIE KEOGH
WEST Cork’s first female TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, is being credited with uniting the party in Cork South West.
Historically, the local Fianna Fáil cumainn were considered to have ‘two camps’, but Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said it was her objective to unify the party.
‘It was something I set out to do,’ Margaret remarked shortly after it was confirmed – on the fifth count – that she had taken the first seat in Cork South West with a poll topping final vote of 11,962. ‘I believe it has worked and that the split has been left in the past.’
In the last election Fianna Fáil took the risky strategy of running two candidates – the sitting TD Christy O’Sullivan and Denis O’Donovan – and despite taking 24% of the votes, the traditional Fianna Fáil seat was lost to Labour’s Michael McCarthy.
This time out, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony took 19.6% of the vote, and a hugely impressive, poll-topping 8,482 first preferences.
But Margaret Murphy O’Mahony admitted she hadn’t anticipated the extent of her support: ‘I did not see this coming.’ She said she thought she would take the third seat, but was ‘absolutely thrilled’ to top the poll, and to make history.
She credited the ‘fantastic team’ behind her, saying: ‘This is our day. It was a joint effort and it paid off.’
West Cork’s newest TD said it was all ‘surreal’.
‘I am delighted to make history for the right reasons,’ she told The Southern Star. ‘It is hard to believe I am going to be in the history books now because of this.’
Her groundbreaking work will open things up for other women because, as Margaret said, ‘they will see that it is possible’.
Commenting on her campaign, which, according to tally figures, showed her polling consistently well throughout the sprawling constituency, she said: ‘Ever since I was selected to run for Fianna Fáil on June 21st, I started knocking on doors.’
She started in her hometown of Bandon on June 23rd, and moved east and west from there. Tally figures show she was just 60 votes behind Jim Daly in Bandon, but Clonakilty gave her a massive thumbs up, with almost 1,800 votes.
Along with her team, Margaret said she put in ‘a Trojan campaign’. She added: ‘I called to nearly every town and village in the county. I set out to meet as many people as I could myself and, in the last month or two, my team took over.
The result, she said, ‘shows that hard work, honesty and perseverance pays off’.
And to those who say she is inexperienced, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said she is ‘relishing’ the challenge.
‘I have served ten years on a Town Council, nearly two on the County Council, and I have 48 years experience of life, so I would ask anyone to take me on with anything they think I have no experience in. I am up for this fight.’
She said it is her mission, as a TD for Cork South West, to bring a fairer recovery to West Cork. ‘Any so-called recovery needs to be felt down here, because it hasn’t yet.’
She also said she would be addressing a variety of urgent and important issues such as the roads – which need a huge cash injection – childcare and health, to mention but a few.
Margaret Murphy O’Mahony said: ‘What I am promising to do is to fight for everything for West Cork. I love it here, and the people here.’ But the final word on the night went to her husband, Paddy O’Mahony, and her sons John and Philip. ‘Without Paddy I would not be here today,’ she said. ‘He has been absolutely A1 since we met.
‘He has always known that I am politically ambitious,’ she added, ‘so that was no surprise to him, but without him and my two sons, John and Philip, this would not have been possible, so I want to thank the three men in my life.’