Anne Farrell will contest the General Election for Renua – after her brother, Senator John Kelly, refused to do so.
Ms. Farrell was last week confirmed as the the fledgling party’s candidate for the Roscommon-Galway constituency. This has prompted an unusual electoral sibling battle: Senator Kelly is seeking a seat in the Dáil for the Labour Party.
Oran-based Ms. Farrell said that she originally joined Renua in an organisational capacity; she did not intend vying for a seat in the Dail at the time.
She said that her wish was for Senator John to leave Labour and run for Renua in the General Election, but he repeatedly declined overtures to that effect.
“I went to John and I asked him would be be interested in joining Renua,” said Anne. “At that time, John wasn’t interested in Renua. I revisited that (with him) on a number of occasions, and he is not.
“That’s it. I respect his decision.”
Anne Farrell, who is in her fifties, is married to Kieran. They have three children: Kelly (19), Matthew (17) and Michelle (16).
She says she has always had an interest in politics, having previously canvassed for President Michael D Higgins.
She said that her decision to join Renua was largely based on her admiration for its leader, Deputy Lucinda Creighton, who severed ties with Fine Gael over her refusal to back the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Abortion is currently top of the political agenda, with parties divided on what legisation, if any, they would introduce on the subject if elected to office.
Ms. Farrell is non-committal on the subject.
Asked about the position Deputy Creighton took on the Bill in July 2014, she said: “I would prefer not to answer that.”
Asked for her stance on abortion, she is equally equivocal. “It’s isn’t black or white,” she said. “I am pro-life and pro-choice.”
One of her main issues during the election will be the health service. Ms. Farrell worked as a community welfare officer for 20 years, but now works full-time for Renua. She is particularly concerned about mental health services.
“What I see through my eyes is a negative society, depressed and suicidal, and support services not what they could be,” she said.
“I am frustrated when I go to access a service and find out how poor it is and how much better it could be.
“There is no strategic, forward-thinking five-year plan for mental health.”
Ms. Farrell said that she was also very worried about the amount of bullying in society. “We have a bullying crisis, not only face-to-face, but also a huge epidemic online,” she said. “We need to make our young people resilient.
“We now have our politicians receiving death threats from faceless people.”
She said that Renua had yet to agree health policies but, speaking from a personal perspective, she would like the accident and emergency department (A&E) at Roscommon Hospital to be reopened.
“Roscommon Hospital is at the heart of everything in the county,” she said. “I personally want to see an A&E in Roscommon. “I think every county should have an A&E.
“To leave big buildings that have the ability to provide services, idle and empty and close them is shocking.
“I am sure, if there is money and a political will, smaller and regional hospitals can be utilised to a greater extent.”