Four years after seeing her hopes of securing a Dail seat go to her party colleague James Bannon, Nicky McFadden could not hide her delight following news of her election on the eighth and final count.
Swamped by members of her close family and party supporters, McFadden said her election was a milestone not just from a personal standpoint but also from a political perspective.
She said the mandate she had received from in excess of 6,000 voters marked a significant moment in the history of Fine Gael, its burgeoning support towards the southern part of the county and was more than two decades since former Justice Minister Paddy Cooney represented the area.
“It is a long time coming for the people of south Westmeath. It is 24 years since we (Fine Gael) had a TD in the area so I owe all of this to the people who have worked for me and the people who voted for me,” she said moments after her election was formally announced.
In what was a weekend to savour for Fine Gael as it recorded its most successful general election campaign in its history, the former medical secretary immediately turned her attention to implementing her party’s well documented political manifesto.
“Jobs would be my priority and to create a stimulus for that,” she said as she struggled to catch her breath. “I want to incentivise people back to work and to stop our young people leaving.”
McFadden was the second Fine Gael candidate to secure a place in the make up of the 31st Dail.
Earlier in the evening, sitting TD James Bannon comfortably kept hold of his seat, fuelling speculation the party could be set to take an unprecedented third seat in the form of Mullingar Councillor, Peter Burke.
Despite staying ahead of Fianna Fail opposite number, Robert Troy for most of the contest, the elimination of Longford Fianna Fail TD, Peter Kelly left the accountant in desperate need of transfers from the last remaining candidate and sole Sinn Fein candidate, Paul Hogan.
They never came, prompting McFadden to heap praise on her defeated party colleague while also professing to ensure Burke’s political base in Mullingar would not fall foul of under representention.
“He (Burke) did ever so well,” she sighed with a look of quiet resignation. “I have already been doing my clinics for the last three years in Mullingar so I will up the ante and will continue to represent Mullingar as best I can.”
McFadden, who later took to the podium alongside Mr Bannon, thanked her team of supporters, party organisers and family for making her political dream come true.