Sitting TD John Paul Phelan entered local politics in 1999 and served two terms in the Seanad before topping the poll in Carlow/Kilkenny during the 2011 general election. The 37 year-old business graduate comes from a farming background and is a qualified barrister. In 2014 he was elected vice-president of Fine Gael. A former member of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Law and Defence, Deputy Phelan most recently sat on the Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis, colloquially known as the Banking Inquiry. Mr Phelan lives in Ferrybank in South Kilkenny and is a life-long member of the GAA through his local club Tullogher-Rosbercon.
On the Ballot
An active member of Fine Gael for the past 25 years, Deputy Pat Deering was elected to the Dáil in 2011 after serving two years on Carlow County Council. The father-of-two was born and raised on the family farm in Rathvilly in Co Carlow and chaired the Carlow County GAA Board from 2005 to 2010. A dairy farmer before his election in 2011, Mr Deering remains a member of the Irish Farmers Association. He lists education, health, farming among his priorities as an elected representative.
In 2011 Ann Phelan made history; by becoming the first female TD ever to be elected for Carlow/Kilkenny. This achievement followed on from seven years on the Kilkenny County Council, where Deputy Phelan retained her seat in a hotly contested local election in 2009 when the council was changed from a five to a four seat body. In 2014 she was appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for rural economic development and rural transport at the Departments of Agriculture. From Graiguenamanagh in Co Kilkenny, Ms Phelan suffered a life threatening stroke and spent three months in the National Rehabilitation Institute in Dun Laoghaire in 2008.
A would-be leader of Fianna Fáil, incumbent John McGuinness has been vocal in his desire to lead the party should a change of leadership be required following the 2016 general election. Born in Kilkenny 1955, the father-of-four has been involved in politics since 1979 when he won a seat on Kilkenny Borough Council. He subsequently became Mayor of the city from 1996 to 1997. Four generations of the McGuinness family have now held the office after his eldest son was elected to the position in 2014. Deputy McGuinness was first elected to Dáil Éireann in the 1997 general election. He served as Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Trade and Commerce from June 2007 to April 2009. Mr McGuinness cites his areas of interest as agriculture and tourism.
Bobby Aylward claimed his Carlow/Kilkenny Dáil seat after it was made vacated by former minister for the environment Phil Hogan on his appointment to the European Commission in 2015. The father-of-three was previously a TD for the constituency from 2007 to 2011 but lost his seat in the 2011 general election. He won close to 28 pc of the poll, amassing 18,572 votes in the first count. Educated at Castlegannon National school, Scoil Aireagail vocational school and Kildalton Agricultural College, Mr Aylward served on the Carlow/Kilkenny County Council from 1992 to 2007 before gaining his Dáil seat. His brother previously represented the same constituency for Fianna Fáil until he retired in 2007.
Jennifer Murnane O’Connor (49) currently sits as a member of Fianna Fáil on Carlow County Council. Co-opted in 2002 to replace her father, Cllr O’Connor ran unsuccessfully in two Seanad elections and the 2011 general election. She is chair of the Housing, Recreation and Amenity and Community SPC in Carlow, and is an active voice in seeking to have Carlow IT promoted to university status.
First elected to Kilkenny County Council in 2014, Kathleen Funchion (34) is attempting for a fourth time to secure a seat in Dáil Éireann. A workers rights advocate with SIPTU, the Sinn Féin candidate came third during the 2015 by-election in the constituency. Among her priorities are housing and rolling back cuts to services in rural Ireland.
Green Party candidate Malcolm Noonan (49) has been a Kilkenny County Councillor since 2004. His party’s Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Cllr Noonan works in the area of suicide prevention – where he says more resources are needed. A former mayor of Kilkenny, he polled just over 5 pc during the 2015 Carlow-Kilkenny by-election. As a candidate he is committed to working towards regenerating rural towns and villages, and wants to see Ireland reduce its imported fossil fuels by funding renewable energy technology.
A member of the Carlow Right to Water group, Adrienne Wallace (25) is the People Before Profit Alliance candidate for Carlow-Kilkenny She polled at 3.5 pc during her failed 2015 by-election bid for the seat left vacant by then TD Phil Hogan. The Carlow woman is a strong advocate for the PBPA’s Social Housing policy, and says that more needs to be done to protect local towns and villages from falling into neglect.
Anti-Austerity campaigner Conor MacLiam (55) is a teacher in Kilkenny and a first stood for election in 2011, where he secured 1.54 pc of first preference votes. Following on from this, he unsuccessfully contested the 2014 local elections for Kilkenny County Council before failing in a second bid for the Dáil during the 2015 Carlow-Kilkenny by-election. Aside from opposing water charges, Mr MacLiam also wants to abolish USC for low to middle level earners and introduce free public health care for all.
Fine Gael’s David Fitzgerald (46) was elected to Kilkenny County Council on his first attempt in 2009. He secured close to 21 pc of the first preference votes cast when he unsuccessfully contested the 2015 by-election for Phil Hogan’s seat following his nomination as a European Commissioner. A member of both the IFA and GAA, Cllr Fitzgerald is strong advocate for the creation of a University for the south east. He also wants to secure support to expand employment in rural communities.
Patrick McKee (27) is standing for Renua Ireland in Carlow- Kilkenny following his defection from Fianna Fáil last year. At 27-years-old he is the youngest member of Kilkenny County Council, which he was elected to in 2014. He polled fourth in the 2015 Carlow-Kilkenny by-election. Openly gay, Cllr McKee is interested in rolling back the cuts to home help and respite grants. He also supports his party’s commitment to abolish USC for the self-employed.
Independent Noel Walsh (50) is campaigning on a platform which includes employment, the elderly, education and opposition to repossession orders. The local activist ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the 2011 general election as well as the 2015 by-election, where he received less than 0.4 pc of first preference votes. Aside from putting an end to evictions, Mr Walsh was to overhaul TDs’ expenses and stamp out cronyism in politics.
Independent Paddy Manning (52) came to prominence during the same-sex marriage referendum, where he was an avid campaigner for the No side. Politically active in Kilkenny for more than 30 years, Mr Manning describes himself as a catholic and a candidate for “those with faith”. Mr Manning wants to see USC abolished, housing regulation rolled back, and states that he will oppose any attempt at repealing the 8th Amendment.
First-time general election candidate Keith Gilligan is a community activist and has been involved in the Right2Water and Right2Change campaigns in Carlow-Kilkenny since 2010. Formerly involved with People Before Profit, Mr Gilligan promises to continued to fight for the ‘Right2’ campaigns if elected.