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Tom McDonnell at the Kildare count centre in Punchestown
Kildare County Council

Final councillor elected in Ireland defends comments saying that women need to 'breed' more

Four recounts took place in Newbridge, the final Local Electoral Area to elect its six councillors.

AN INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR who filled the country’s last council seat has defended remarks made in the aftermath of his win calling for women to “breed” more.

Speaking this morning on Kildare FM, Tom McDonnell defended his use of the word ‘breed’ in reference to a call for increased birth rates, citing his rural background.

McDonnell is a builder by trade. He is a father to five children and one of two founders of Éire Saor, which describes itself as “an unregistered umbrella group of like minded independent candidates running in the Newbridge area”. 

He is the only candidate of the three members of Éire Saor to win a seat in the local elections. Of the 40 seats available, only three went to Independent candidates. 

“I come from a farming background,” he told presenter Eoin Beatty when asked about his comments.

He claimed that he used the term as it had been used on farms: “You’d breed a litter of pups, or whatever.”

McDonnell did not say when asked if he would retract his use of the word ‘breed’ or apologise for his comment.

“It’s not offensive in any way. If people would understand me coming from a farming background. Have more children, yes. Have more children,” he said.

Four recounts

McDonnell’s victory in Newbridge marked the end of counting for the local elections.

Four recounts were issued in total in the Kildare count centre in Punchestown to determine who would be elected to the final three seats in the Newbridge Local Electoral Area (LEA).

Tracey O’Dwyer (Fine Gael), Peggy O’Dwyer (Fine Gael), and Chris Pender (Social Democrats), had all been elected after reaching the quota.

After their successes, there was a long battle for the three final seats, with four recounts to decide which of Sinn Féin’s James Stokes or Aontú candidate Melissa Byrne would be eliminated.

25-year-old Byrne was ultimately excluded after receiving two fewer votes than Sinn Féin’s youngest candidate, 18-year-old James Stokes, who himself was eliminated shortly afterwards.

Byrne’s elimination resulted in a transfer of 260 votes to McDonnell, who ran on an anti-immigration platform. 

Today on Kildare FM, McDonnell denied that he was anti-immigration, saying that he was “absolutely” for “controlled immigration, not anti-immigration”. 

He also denied being a member of the far-right. 

“The first two lads I worked for were from Jamaica. We had great craic,” he said.

McDonnell has strongly outlined his views on the Irish birth rate, saying: “If we don’t have women breeding, we die out as a breed. We don’t want that to happen.”

This morning, he confirmed his plans for tax incentives to be given to working women who have more children.

Irish girls are the foundation of this state.”

He also said that his agenda going forward “will be to look after the women of Ireland and make sure they have more children and give them tax incentives”.

Former Mayor of Kildare, and Newbridge resident, Michael ‘Spike’ Nolan, told Kildare FM that he was unhappy with the election of McDonnell.

Nolan expressed frustration with the low voting turnout and highlighted the dangers of political apathy. 

A total of 11,755 people voted in the Newbridge LEA, a 46.8% turnout. Nolan said that low voting turnouts and political indifference “inadvertently gives an advantage to candidates with harmful and divisive agendas.”

The first five seats filled in the council from the Newbridge LEA were incumbent councillors. The final seat, which went to newcomer McDonnell, had previously been filled by Independent councillor Fiona McLoughlin Healy, who did not run.

You can view the local election results here, and keep up with the European election counts here, as they continue in Midlands-North-West and Ireland South.

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