A woman with family connections to the Ballinroey area of Dring in north County Longford will run as a candidate for the Conservative Party in the next UK general election.
Maria Caulfield, whose father John is from the townsland, will contest the election in the constituency of Lewes in East Sussex next year.
“I still have family living in the area,” she reveals. “And I still go back at least once a year. My dad has a farm in the area that he rents out.”
Maria, who also served as a local councillor for four years, admits that joining the Tory Party was not the obvious choice for the daughter of an Irish immigrant, adding that, “My brother is not a Conservative at all - he’s a Liberal”.
However, she outlines her reasons for joining the party, saying that, “Labour tried closing the hospital here, and I also believe that the State doesn’t always know best.”
Healthcare is an issue close to Maria’s heart, as her professional background is in nursing.
“I’m a Research Sister working in the the area of breast cancer treatment, where we test new drugs,” she explains. “I’m passionate about healthcare.”
Talking about other topics in her manifesto, Maria says, “one of the big issues is the terrible road and rail link to London. It’s only 50 miles away but it takes an hour and a half by road to get there. The A27 road needs to be upgraded to increase visit0r and tourist numbers to this beautiful part of the world.”
Mobile phone coverage is another problem: “It’s a rural constituency and it’s affecting farmers, and rural towns and villages.”
Maria goes on to add that she wants to run a positive campaign, saying “negative campaigning can disillusion people.”
She also acknowledges she takes inspiration from a Longford politician; the late Brian ‘Batt’ Lynch:
“He’s the type of politician I want to be,” she concludes. “He was a hardworking politician who cared about local issues.”