Will 8 February be Independent’s Day?

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.

The role of Independent TDs in the last administration was critical to its survival, but a number of them from the 32nd Dáil are now not running in this race.

So will their influence be as strong in the lower house after 8 February?

RTÉ’s Conor Hunt has been speaking to some of those who are on the independent ticket about the challenges and benefits of running on their own.

For TJ Hogan – this campaign is a real family affair.

Handing out leaflets around the streets near his home in Fair Hill in Cork North Central, he’s surrounded by his relatives who have been drafted in to help.

A first time General Election candidate, he’s running as an Independent.  That brings advantages he says, but also some big challenges – particularly when it comes to raising money.

‘Well financially, it’s a huge burden, not just for me, but for my family as well.  Thankfully I’m getting a lot of support and I’m running my campaign on a shoe string and am relying a lot on social media.’

TJ Hogan is a community worker and also a member too of the Traveller community.  He’s been canvassing in halting sites where he says the people have told him it’s the first time a politician has come to their doors.

He says though he’s a candidate for all and lists housing, health and crimes as the big issues he would highlight if he makes it to Dáil Éireann.

In Newbridge in Kildare South, Cathal Berry is directing his troops.  A former army ranger he’s bringing military- style organisation to his campaign – he’s relying too on old soldier friends to to help him.

Striding up the main street, speaking about how he got his team together, he slips into some military speak, ‘You really have to get a very highly motivated team together very, very quickly and then launch with very short notice.’He says running as an Independent is a challenge but one that can be met.  

‘There’s never been an Independent in Kildare South, so we said well why not have a go?  Clearly there’s an appetite for it.’

He expects to spend close to €20,000 on his campaign.

Carol Nolan won a seat with Sinn Féin in the lasat election

Over in Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan is on the streets of Ferbane.  She knows all about the benefits that come with the backing of a political party. She won a seat last time out for Sinn Féin, but parted ways after she disagreed with the party’s stance on abortion. She’s running this time on a non-party ticket.

She’s had to build an entirely new campaign team, and she’s the one leading the charge.

‘Not having the party machine behind you is I suppose one difference’, she says.

‘It’s harder no doubt about it running as an Independent, but I feel people want an Independent voice and that’s why I put myself forward’.

There have already been some high profile Independent departures in this race – John Halligan, Michael Harty, Finian McGrath, Tommy Broughan, Maureen O’Sullivan.

So can the next batch of Independents be as influential in the next Dail as they were in the 32nd?

Katherine Zappone (c) is the current Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Katherine Zappone, who was (is) in the last government certainly hopes so.

Speaking in Firhouse, in Dublin South West, she says the recent retirements of some Independents doesn’t necessarily signal the demise of others.

‘As a  group of Independent who came in the last time, we made a huge difference to what happened both from withing government and from the opposition.  So the contribution of Independents is well recognised and well known’, she says.

So will 9 February be Independent’s Day? The voters will decide.


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