Fidelma Healy-Eames will contest the 2016 General Election as an Independent candidate for the Galway West, saying she would prefer “to dedicate my energy to policies that can make a difference rather than putting my energy into a party”.
The controversial senator is also interested in forming alliances with other like-minded Independents to deliver on her key priority areas. However she will face stiff competition for a seat from Dep Noel Grealish and Cllr James Charity, both of whom are based in the same section of the constituency as she.
Sen Healy-Eames was a member of Fine Gael until last summer when she and a number of others were expelled from the party for voting against the Government’s Abortion Bill. Initially she was part of Dep Lucinda Creighton’s Reform Alliance, but has opted for the Independent path as that entity morphed into the party currently known as ‘ReBoot Ireland’.
Sen Healy-Eames decided to run as an Independent following consultations “with my team” and with constituents “over the last five to six weeks”. According to the Maree based politician, the majority of her supporters were in favour of her remaining Independent. “People feel that as an Independent they know where they stand with me and that I would be accountable,” she said, “whereas they would have no such certainty with a party. They also know I’m not afraid to stand up and be counted.”
Sen Healy-Eames said her key priorities will be “ensuring the working person has more money in their pocket”; incentivising small business through tax reform; supporting a partial debt write-down from Europe; promoting the rights of families; political reform; and improvements in education such as childcare supports through to higher education.
Sen Healy-Eames ran as a Fine Gael candidate in Galway West in the 2002, 2007, and 2011 elections, losing out on a seat in the latter by 52 votes to Seán Kyne. Her task in 2016 will be no easier given that she is based in the congested Oranmore section of Galway West which will be the most competitive section of the contituency.
The resilient sitting TD Independent Noel Grealish will be running here, as will the emerging force of James Charity, the ambitious Independent county councillor. Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh will also be seeking to take votes from the area, given that his task will be to cover the eastern section of Galway West. It is also likely that Fine Gael will run Sen Hildegarde Naughton who has strong connections with Oranmore.