DCU graduate, Helen McEntee, feels she shouldn’t be penalised because of her family name as she prepares to run in the Meath East by-election for Fine Gael.
Speaking to The College View, McEntee says that she started her studies in politics here in DCU before her father, former Minister of State Shane McEntee, was elected and that she is running to represent young people in politics.
“My father was a politician and that’s where it stopped. This is not something I took up in the last year or two. Ireland is a democracy. People elect who they think will represent them best.”
McEntee is running for her father’s now vacant seat after the former junior minister took his own life late last year.
“I don’t think I should be penalised because of my name, people know the name and I don’t think that’s a problem. I’m honoured to be Shane McEntee’s daughter and I will never shy away from that. I’m here to represent the people of Meath East and to represent young people in politics”, McEntee told The College View.
The youth of Ireland will be a main focus for McEntee if she does get into the Dáil. She wants to tackle the mass emigration that’s threatening to create a generation gap in Ireland.
“There are a lot of people our age leaving the country. We want to keep them at home. They are leaving because they don’t have jobs. So I would like to focus on battling unemployment and especially unemployment in the youth and in my constituency.”
If McEntee is elected she will become the youngest politician in the Dáil and she feels that people would like to see youth in government.
“I’m under no illusion that there would be a bit of a focus on me if things do go well, but I’m willing to take on the challenge and I’d love to be a voice for young people in Ireland, especially young women”, she said.
McEntee believes there are more and more women getting involved in politics and that this is a positive sign for the future.
“On our side you just have to look at Young Fine Gael. There are a lot of women getting involved with them so maybe you’ll see some of them coming up through the ranks in the next couple of years.”
McEntee graduated from DCU with a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and then went on to complete her masters in Journalism and Media Communications. After working in the financial sector for a while she went back to complete her masters and afterwards knew politics was the way she wanted to go.
“Once I finished my masters I started working with my Dad straight away I suppose. I knew that was something I wanted to do and it was the right time and it was the right place. That was up until last September”, McEntee told The College View.
Campaigning for the Meath East by-election is well underway with eleven candidates confirmed in the running for the March 27th vote. Also running are Fianna Fail senator Thomas Byrne, Cllr Eoin Holmes of the Labour Party, Sinn Fein’s Darren O Rourke, Sean O Buachalla of the Greens,Seamus McDonagh of the Workers’ Party and Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy Ireland.
The Independents contesting the election are Jim Tallon, Charlie Keddy, Mick Martin and Gearoid O’Brien.