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A GAA star, a former Army Ranger and more than a few teachers: The new faces in the Dáil

There will be dozens of new – and old – faces in the 33rd Dáil.

IT WAS A long few days for politicians up and down the country since votes were cast on Saturday. 

But, after two full days of counting, we know now who’ll be making up the 180 TDs in the 33rd Dáil. 

Among the new cohort are plenty of new faces – some are experienced politicians, while others are closer to political novices. 

So here’s the definitive list of the new TDs who’ll be walking the corridors of Leinster House soon enough:

Jennifer Murnane O’Connor (FF) – Carlow-Kilkenny

On a bad day for Fianna Fáil, Murnane O’Connor was one new candidate elected in Carlow-Kilkenny.

She was elected to the Seanad in 2016, where she was the party’s spokesperson on housing, planning and local government. 

This was her third time standing for a Dáil seat. 

download Jennifer Murnane O'Connor was elected in Carlow-Kilkenny.

Malcolm Noonan (GP) – Carlow-Kilkenny

Noonan is the longest-serving Green Party councillor. The 53-year-old, who is a former Mayor of Kilkenny, was elected in Carlow-Kilkenny. 

A community and environmental activist, he contested the leadership of the Green Party in 2011. 

download (1) Malcolm Noonan is a new Green Party TD.

Matt Carthy (SF) – Cavan-Monaghan

Carthy has been an MEP for the Midlands North-West constituency since 2014.

Starting out as a councillor in Monaghan, Carthy was one of the rare Sinn Féin successes at the European elections in 2016. 

european-parliament-election Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Pauline Tully (SF) – Cavan-Monaghan

Elected in Cavan-Monaghan, Tully was a Cavan County Councillor from 1999 to 2012. 

On Christmas Eve 2014, she was assaulted by her ex-husband Pearse McCauley. McCauley was a senior member of the IRA and spent 10 and a half years in prison for the manslaughter of Jerry McCabe. 

In December 2015 she gave a harrowing account of the assault to the late Marian Finucane on RTÉ.

Tully is a teacher at Breifne College in Cavan.

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Michael McNamara (independent) – Clare

A former member of the Labour Party, Michael McNamara was elected in Clare.

A former member of Labour, McNamara will be no doubt familiar with the procedures of the Dáil – he was elected as a Labour TD in 2011 before being expelled from the party in 2015 for voting against the government. 

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Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) – Clare

With a degree in psychology and a background in the reserve Defence Forces, Wynne was elected in Clare. 

She describes herself as a stay-at-home mother, she ran unsuccessfully in the local council elections in 2019. 

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Cathal Crowe (FF) – Clare

The Fianna Fáil mayor was the first to put the government’s planned commemoration of the RIC on the agenda, by stating that he would boycott the planned RIC commemoration. 

Crowe is a well-known local politician in his Clare constituency and topped the poll in his ward in the local elections last year. 

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James O’Connor (FF) – Cork East

The youngest TD in the Dáil, O’Connor unseated running mate and sitting TD Kevin O’Keefe to win a seat in Cork East. Aged 22, the election makes him one of the youngest TDs ever.

Still, the Trinity College Dublin graduate already has plenty of political experience – he was elected to Cork County Council in May 2019 and has previously worked as a ministerial assistant. 

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Thomas Gould (SF) – Cork North-Central

A Sinn Féin councillor since 2009, Gould just lost out in the Cork North-Central by-election in November 2019. 

A logistics manager by trade, he previously contested the 2016 general election. 

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Colm Burke (FG) – Cork North-Central

A senator since 2016, Colm Burke was the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on health. A former MEP, he is also a former Lord Mayor of Cork. 

Burke unsuccessfully contested a seat in Cork North Central in the by-election in November. By winning a seat in the general election, Burke is becoming a TD for a constituency he first ran for back in 1982. 

90371494 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) – Cork South-West

The fourth member of his family to pursue a career in politics, O’Sullivan was elected alongside his girlfriend and Social Democrats candidate Holly Cairns in Cork-South West. 

The current Mayor of Cork, he has been a councillor since 2007. 

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Holly Cairns (Soc Dem) – Cork South-West

The only female TD in Cork, Cairns was elected in Cork South-West. A local councillor since 2019, she is a farmer and a small business owner from Turk Head. 

Holder of a master’s in organic horticulture, her election was seen as a major victory for the Social Democrats. 

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Padráig Mac Lochlainn (SF) – Donegal

A current senator, Mac Lochlainn is a former TD who was elected in 2011. He just lost out on a seat in Donegal in the 2016 election. 

An experienced politician, he is a former Mayor of Buncrana with a background in community activism.

He was the first TD from a Traveller background elected to the Dáil. 

90253492 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Cian O’Callaghan (Soc Dem) – Dublin Bay North

With a background in social policy and healthcare economics, O’Callaghan was elected to the Dáil in Dublin Bay North. 

The 40-year-old was elected to Fingal County Council in 2009 and is the Social Democrats spokesperson on energy and climate change. 

He was Mayor of Fingal from 2012 to 2013, making him the ‘first openly gay mayor‘ in the country. 

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Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Lab) – Dublin Bay North

The former TD, who lost his seat in 2016, regained it in Dublin Bay North. 

For the last four years, the former Minister of State for Drugs Strategy has been representing Labour in the Seanad. 

0169 Labour Party Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Chris Andrews (SF) – Dublin Bay South

A former Fianna Fáil TD, Andrews was elected in Dublin Bay South. His election marks a long-awaited return to the Dáil for the experienced politician, who was first elected as a councillor in Dublin in 1999. 

Andrews comes from a Fianna Fáil family, before joining Sinn Féin after he lost his seat in 2011. 

90410298 Source: RollingNews.ie

Neasa Hourigan (GP) – Dublin Central

A first-time Green Party TD, Hourigan was elected in Dublin Central. 

A current councillor in Dublin, she has worked as an architect and a university lecturer. She is the party’s finance spokesperson. 

green 074 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Gary Gannon (Soc Dem) – Dublin Central

A councillor in Dublin since 2014, Gannon was elected in Dublin Central. He lost out on a seat in the constituency by only a few seats in 2016, while he also contested the European elections for the Social Democrats in 2019. 

He has a degree in history and political science. 

5741Gary Gannon Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Duncan Smith (Lab) – Dublin Fingal

Duncan Smith was elected in Dublin Fingal. A councillor, he contested the Dublin Fingal by-election in November, putting in a strong performance. 

He first ran in the 2014 local elections for Labour.

labour 046 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Emer Higgins (FG) – Dublin Mid-West

The 34-year-old was elected in Dublin Mid-West. She is the Chief of Staff for Paypal and unsuccessfully contested the November 2019 by-election in the constituency.

A board member of UCD, she has been a councillor for nine years. 

kenny-egan-fine-gael-local-elections Source: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Paul McAuliffe (FF) – Dublin North-West

The current Lord Mayor of Dublin, McAuliffe was elected in Dublin North-West. 

A city councillor for over 10 years, he contested the local elections for the Progressive Democrats in 2004. 

2296 RDS Count Source: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Neale Richmond (FG) – Dublin Rathdown

36-year-old Neale Richmond was elected to the Seanad in 2016. The Fine Gael spokesperson on EU Affairs and the Chairman of the Brexit Committee, he is also a former political advisor. 

During the Brexit negotiations, Richmond became a frequent contributor and government representative in Irish and UK media. 

He was elected to a seat in Dublin Rathdown.

0457 Brexit Reports Source: RollingNews.ie

Patrick Costello (GP) – Dublin South-Central

Costello, who won a seat in Dublin South Central, was first elected as a councillor in the 2014 local elections.

The Green Party spokesperson on transport, he is a child protection social worker and formerly worked in homeless and addiction services. 

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Francis Noel Duffy (GP) – Dublin South-West

A councillor on South Dublin County Council, Duffy won a seat in Dublin South West.

The husband of Green TD Catherine Martin, he also ran in the 2016 general election.  

He is a lecturer for the School of Architecture in TU Dublin and a former deputy mayor.

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Paul Donnelly (SF) – Dublin West

A first-time TD, Donnelly has been a councillor since 2014. He attracted attention during the count for being elected on the first count in Leo Varadkar’s constituency, while the taoiseach had to wait until the fifth count. 

He first contested a by-election for Sinn Féin in 1998. 

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Roderic O’Gorman (GP) – Dublin West

First elected to Fingal County Council in 2014 and re-elected in 2019, O’Gorman was elected in Dublin West.

He is a law lecturer in Dublin City University. The 38-year-old is the chairperson of the Fingal Joint Policing Committee and serves on a number of local school boards of management.

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Ossian Smyth (GP) – Dún Laoghaire

Green Party candidate Ossian Smyth was first elected to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in 2014. The gaeilgeoir was made chairperson of the council in 2018.

Smyth was also a technical project manager at St Vincent’s Hospital and has volunteered as a mentor at a local coderdojo. Prior to the election, he was the party’s digital policy spokesperson.

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Jennifer Carroll MacNeill (FG) -Dún Laoghaire

A relative newcomer in elected office, Carroll MacNeill won a seat on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown council on her first attempt in 2019. 

The former solicitor and barrister, however, will be no stranger to Leinster House. She has been a senior advisor to different government departments and a former legal advisor to Enda Kenny.

Multiple media appearances in recent days show she’s a confident operator and she takes the sole seat for Fine Gael in Dún Laoghaire as Mary Mitchell O’Connor lost her seat and Maria Bailey didn’t run this time.

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Cormac Devlin (FF) – Dún Laoghaire

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The Fianna Fáil man was first elected to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Council in 2004 and has been re-elected to the council in every local election since. 

He has won a seat in the Dáil at the second attempt, after losing out in 2016. That same year, he was elected chairperson of the council.

Devlin is involved in local organisations such as Cuala GAA in Dalkey, Beaufort Day Care Centre and Sallynoggin College of Further Education. 

Mairead Farrell (SF) – Galway West

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Sinn Féin took a seat in Galway West with Mairead Farrell, a 30-year-old NUIG graduate who joined the party in 2008.

She sat on the Sinn Féin Republican Youth’s National Committee for five years and has previously served on Galway City Council. 

Pa Daly (SF) – Kerry

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Taking the reins for Sinn Féin in Kerry from long-time TD Martin Ferris, Pa Daly was elected on the first count in the constituency on Sunday.

He served on the local council, as well as being a solicitor based in Tralee. He’s also been involved with the Na Gaeil GAA and Tralee Dynamos.

Norma Foley (FF) – Kerry

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Winning the last seat in Kerry at the expense of party colleague John Brassil, Fianna Fáil’s Norma Foley is a former school teacher who got involved in local politics over 15 years ago.

She was elected to Kerry County Council in 2004, has been mayor of Tralee on three occasions and served as the Mayor of Kerry in 2018-19.

Réada Cronin (SF) – Kildare North

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Sinn Féin’s Réada Cronin has won a seat in the Dáil at the second attempt, after failing to get in in 2016.

She had previously served as a councillor on Kildare County Council from 2014 to 2019.

Patricia Ryan (SF) – Kildare South

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Sinn Féin’s Patricia Ryan earned notoriety on the campaign for being on holiday for a period of it.

She was elected to Kildare County County in the 2019 local elections and had previously been unsuccessful in the 2016 general election.

Cathal Berry (independent) – Kildare South

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Cathal Berry is a medical doctor who’s been elected to the Dáil for the first time of asking. He’s a former deputy commander within the Defence Forces and urged the minister of defence to resign after he himself had resigned after 23 years service last year.

Berry says he’s “not a career politician” and said his priorities include healthcare, housing, the environment, education and the plight of Defence Force families.

Kieran O’Donnell (FG) – Limerick City

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Having lost the Dáil seat he’d held from 2007 to 2016, Fine Gae’s Kieran O’Donnell was elected to the Seanad in 2016.

A qualified chartered account with a degree in business studies, he’d been the Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on finance before regaining a Dáil seat in the general election.

Brian Leddin (GP) – Limerick City

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An engineering graduate from the University of Limerick, Green Party candidate Brian Leddin won the final seat in Limerick City for the party.

He won a seat to Limerick City and County Council last year and is the Green Party’s spokesperson on energy.

Richard O’Donoghue (independent) – Limerick County

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A former Fianna Fáil member who left the party in 2015, Richard O’Donoghue unsuccessfully ran as an independent in the 2016 general election.

He was first elected to Limerick City and County Council in 2014 and retained his seat there in 2019. He says his number one priority for his constituency is housing.

Sorcha Clarke (SF) – Longford-Westmeath

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Elected on the first count in Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Féin’s Sorcha Clarke is a former Mullingar councillor who lost her seat in the 2019 local elections.

A qualified accountant, she runs a Midlands-based security business with her husband and is active in various community groups across the two counties dealing with disability services, domestic violence and access to education.

Joe Flaherty (FF) – Longford-Westmeath

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Longford man Joe Flaherty was elected to the local council in the 2019 local elections.

He is the managing director of Johnston Press, which publishes newspapers such as the Longford Leader and the Dundalk Democrat.

Ruairí Ó Murchú (SF) – Louth

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Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú was co-opted to Louth County Council in 2017 and kept his seat in the 2019 local elections.

He has a degree in computer applications and a Masters in computing. He is a political activist and works for Sinn Féin’s election department. He takes a seat for Sinn Féin in Louth, replacing Gerry Adams who’d held a seat there since 2011.

Ged Nash (Lab) – Louth

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Labour’s Ged Nash won a seat to the Dáil in 2011 but lost the seat in 2016.

He’s the party’s spokesperson on employment and social protection. He was co-opted to Louth County Council in 2002 and retained his seat until elected to the Dáil.

Nash was appointed Minister of State for small business and collective bargaining in 2014. He is a former PR consultant and teacher.

Rose Conway-Walsh (SF) – Mayo

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Elected to the Seanad in 2016, Rose Conway-Walsh has served as Sinn Féin’s leader in the upper house of the Oireachtas. 

She previously served on Mayo County Council and lives in Belmullet. She has a degree in public management and a Masters in local government.

Alan Dillon (FG) – Mayo

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In the 2011 general election, Fine Gael won four seats in Mayo including Taoiseach-to-be Enda Kenny. This time, they won two and former two-time All-Star winner Alan Dillon won one of them.

A first-time candidate, Dillon player over 100 senior county games for Mayo before retiring from inter-county football in 2017. He provides validation consulting and engineering managed services to company projects.

Dillon also has a degree in applied mathematics and biology and a Masters in pharmaceutical science.

Darren O’Rourke (SF) – Meath East

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Another Sinn Féin candidate who was unsuccessful in 2016 but won a seat this time around is Darren O’Rourke who topped the poll in Meath West.

He has been a councillor on Meath County Council since the 2014 local elections. He was re-elected to the council in the 2019 local elections. O’Rourke is a PhD student researching major health service reform.

Johnny Guirke (SF) – Meath West

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Yet another Sinn Féin poll topper, Johnny Guirke was first elected to Meath County Council in the 2014 local elections.

He retained that seat in 2019 and will enter the 33rd Dáil for Sinn Féin after Peadar Tóibín had previously held a seat for the party there before he left to form Aontú.

Claire Kerrane (SF) – Roscommon-Galway

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Sinn Féin’s Claire Kerrane will be no stranger to the Oireachtas despite it being her first time elected to the Dáil.

She works as a political advisor on social protection with Sinn Féin in Leinster House. She is a qualified secondary school teacher in English and politics.

Kerrane is from Roscommon and has campaigned against closing the A&E unit in Roscommon and for the continuation of domestic turf cutting rights.

Marian Harkin (independent) – Sligo-Leitrim

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A true political veteran, independent Marian Harkin is a former MEP and TD.

She served as an Independent TD in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency from 2002 to 2007 and as MEP from 2004 to 2019. She did not contest the 2019 European elections.

Frank Feighan (FG) – Sligo-Leitrim

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Fine Gael’s Frank Feighan became a Senator in 2016. He previously served two Dáil terms from 2007 to 2016 and served in the Seanad from 2002 to 2007.

Feighan is the co-chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly. He is a member of the most recent Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Martin Browne (SF) – Tipperary

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Sinn Féin’s Martin Browne served on the local council from 2014 but lost his seat in the 2019 elections.

Locally, he’s involved with groups such as the Cashel Playground Development Community, Spafield Crescent Residents Association and Cashel Meals on Wheels.

Matt Shanahan (Independent) – Waterford

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Independent Matt Shanahan was co-opted onto Waterford City & County Council in January 2019. He retained his seat on the council in the May 2019 local elections.

He says his number one priority for the constituency are the “important pillars” of Waterford Hospital and WIT. 

Marc O’Cathasaigh (GP) – Waterford

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The Green Party’s Marc O’Cathasaigh was first elected to Waterford City and County Council in the 2019 local elections.

He is the Green Party spokesperson on social protection and is a primary school teacher working in Tramore.

Johnny Mythen (SF) – Wexford

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Johnny Mythen lost his council seat in 2019 but was elected this time around in Wexford on the first count with a huge surplus.

The former ESB worker and trade union representative was first elected to the council in 2014.

Verona Murphy (independent) – Wexford

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Verona Murphy is a former Fine Gael by-election candidate who ran in the November 2019 elections for Wexford where she finished in third place.

She was dropped from the party ticket following criticism over a series of comments about migrants she made during the by-election campaign.

Jennifer Whitmore (Soc Dem) – Wicklow

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First elected as an independent councillor in 2014, Jennifer Whitmore retained her seat as a SocDems candidate in the 2019 local elections.

She unsuccessfully contested the 2016 Seanad election and is the Social Democrats spokesperson for children.

Whitmore is the chair of the council’s committee on climate and biodiversity. She previously spent time in Australia where she worked as a senior policy analyst and has degrees in ecology and environmental law.

Steven Matthews (GP) – Wicklow

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Green Party candidate Steven Matthews was first elected to Wicklow County Council in 2014. He was re-elected in the 2019 local elections.

He served as chairperson of the Bray district in 2016 and 2019 and is the Green Party spokesperson on water. Matthews also has a degree in planning and environmental management.

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About the author:

Dominic McGrath & Seán Murray

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