by Louise Doyle
GREEN party candidate, Paula Flanagan, has not ruled out running in an election in the future, she has said.
The first time election candidate made her comments after she garnered one per cent of the final tally votes on Saturday.
Speaking to the Donegal News from the count centre in the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny, the Gortahork woman admitted she found the process “challenging” but “enjoyable”.
She said: “As a party we knew that we would get small percentages. However, what I’ve really enjoyed about the campaign is that everyone has had unique parts to play.
“This is my first time to run. I’m from a community background and so working with groups is a familiar territory, however, scaling it up across the county was an incredible challenge, but also really rewarding and enjoyable. To get such a strong sense of the county and to have people coming up to me and speaking to me about concerning issues has been a wonderful experience.”
Continuing, the Fermanagh native said the election campaign afforded her the opportunity to engage with women. She also admitted that she didn’t find it ‘surprising’ voting patterns returned a show for party support, rather than independents and Green Party candidates.
“Traditionally, there are family links to people voting for parties rather than outside of those parties. I think the Green Party experienced a disengagement with young people. The marriage referendum was also a turning point for me and I thought it was time open a door and start discussing issues that are more relevant to women, so that was really key.
“The other thought, I suppose, is that people haven’t seen everything go the way they thought it would having relied on the parties they have always relied on. Therefore, I think we have seen the growth of independents, for sure. The Green Party has been around for a little while so we’re not necessarily new to the scene, but we got lost in the scheme of things.
“However, great things are starting to happen in Ireland. We may say Donegal is a little bit more cautious than some of the other counties but there is a wave of interest and connection and I think Independents, the Green Party, and the Social Democrats are appealing to the younger, female voters. The marriage referendum engaged a whole number of those who had been disengaged in the past.”
Asked as to whether she believed a Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael coalition could be on the cards for broader Ireland, Ms Flanagan said she was ‘unsure’.
“I think the numbers may show that it should happen, but just knowing the traditional way of doing things for those two parties I can’t help but feel it won’t work. It would be interesting to see, and personally, I would welcome it for the mandate. However, it would take a lot of compromise on both sides, egos would need to be left at the door.
“Donegal has made history in a number of ways today with the fact we have had three women stand. We didn’t reach the quota in terms of 30 per cent representation for the constituency, but we did nationally. But the challenge still remains that the parties need to get women on the ballot. Good women on the ballot. “If it takes me standing again, I would do that. If women don’t come forward in the local and national elections next time then I’m up for the job.”
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