By the time Rachel Doherty takes her bow and exits public life prior to next year’s local elections, the Doherty family from Cootehall will have completed a remarkable 64-year association with politics in Roscommon.
This then, is very much the end of an era. Little wonder that Cllr. Rachel Doherty was emotional when she touched on this aspect of her decision during an interview on Shannonside Radio this week. Ms. Doherty, a councillor since 2004, has announced that she won’t be contesting next year’s elections. Cllr. Doherty knows that her decision to leave local politics at this point essentially represents an era ending. Often seen in the past as a potential General Election candidate for Fianna Fáil, it is fair to presume that she is also now closing the door on any such journey. She admitted as much in her radio interview. And neither is it on the cards that another member of the Doherty family will step in as Rachel prepares to step out.
That Doherty name has loomed large on the Roscommon political landscape since as far back as the mid-1950s. Rachel’s grandfather, James Doherty, was elected to Roscommon County Council in 1955 and again in 1960 and ‘67. After the death of James Doherty, his son Sean (Rachel’s father) was elected to the Council (in 1974).
Sean Doherty was a popular, sometimes controversial and always colourful politician. His career spanned over thirty years, up to his untimely death in 2005. Having started on Roscommon County Council, he rose up the political ladder, serving as a TD and Government Minister. He was also a Senator, at one point serving as Cathaoirleach.
Rachel Doherty (daughter of Sean and Maura) was first elected to Roscommon County Council in 2004 (re-elected in 2009 and 2014). Her surprise decision – announced this week – not to go before convention for the 2019 local elections is a reflection on the growing pressure on councillors all over the country, a great many of whom are finding it increasingly difficult to balance political demands with their other work (and personal) commitments.
Rachel Doherty has been an excellent councillor, easily one of the best to serve on Roscommon County Council over the past couple of decades. Always well briefed on issues, she approached politics with passion, energy and determination. She has been one of the more vocal councillors in the Chamber and one of the most impressive. A very experienced public representative, she will be a big loss to Fianna Fáil and to local politics.