Michael Staines
Michael Staines

15.18 6 Feb 2020


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Ireland’s youngest general election candidate has said voters have a “real opportunity” to vote in a Government that does not involve either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

Green Party candidate for Cavan Monaghan Tate Donnelly would become the second-youngest TD ever if he is elected at just over 21-years-old.

He joined fellow first-time candidates Deirdre Geraghty-Smith (FF) and Emer Higgins (FG) on The Pat Kenny Show’s political panel this morning.

"Real alternative"

Mr Donnelly said voters are being offered a “real alternative” to the two main parties – and urged the public to “fill up the seats with something better and with real change.”

“I think this is the election where rural Ireland votes green,” he said. I think this is the election where we get several green representatives elected in rural Ireland.”

He said people in rural Ireland want better rail services and affordable services.

“Also, the current system is not working for farmers and it is Fine Gael policies that have put farmers in the position they are in,” he said.

“I think farmers are very open to doing absolutely everything they can for the climate if they get the support they need.”

"Quality of life"

Meanwhile, Ms Geraghty-Smith, who is running for Fianna Fáil in Meath East said she will work to improve the quality of life of her constituents who commute to the capital every day.

“As you know we have seen a huge influx of people moving in particularly from Dublin,” she said. “it is very much a commuter belt area. Lots of commuter chaos.”

“For me, it is really about quality of life issues representing those people and that is what I have been doing since being elected last year.”

She said she would focus on improving the bus and rail network in the area.

“On the climate agenda, I am certainly quite strong on that and I do believe we have to take difficult decisions over the coming years,” she said.

“I think rail is a natural and sustainable transport option and that is something that for me personally is very much a priority.”

"Public transport"

Emer Higgins, running for Fine Gael in Dublin Mid-West, said she believes all parties now have a green focus.

“I think that is a requirement nowadays because unfortunately, we are in a biodiversity and climate change crisis,” she said. “So, it is good to see that all parties are embracing that agenda.”

She said her constituents are aware that “we have only balanced the books in the last number of years” and said she would work towards investment in schools and public transport.

“We have a rail station which is currently closed and it is one of my top priorities to ensure that, whoever is the next Minister for Transport from whatever party, that they are prioritising things like that so people can get out of their cars and on to public transport,” she said.

You can listen back to the full panel discussion here.


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