THREE years ago the newly elected Labour TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, Ann Phelan suffered a life threatening stroke and spent three months in the National Rehabilitation Institute in Dun Laoghaire when she didn’t know what the future held for her and becoming a member of Dail Eireann was the last thing on her mind.
Since that time she has literally battled her way back to full health and on Sunday became the first female TD ever from Kilkenny elected to Dai Eireann and was also the first person elected to the new Dail from the constituency. Creating twice in one afternoon is a huge achievement.
No one appreciates the magnitude of her achievements more than Ann and the sacrifices she has had to make. She is delighted to have the opportunity to represent the people of Carlow and Kilkenny in the national parliament and to help in the nation’s recovery.
It could all have been so much different. On April 11. 2008 her world came crashing down when she suffered a serious stroke. When it struck, she was aware of what was happening to her and alerted those around her who took immediate action and rushed her to hospital and that early intervention probably saved her life.
Shouldered by her family supporters after being the first person elected from Carlow-Kilkenny to the new Dail on Sunday afternoon, it marked a remarkable transformation in her life.
“I could never have imagined three years ago that I would be driving to a Labour party parliamentary meeting in Dublin on a Tuesday morning after being elected on a Sunday afternoon,” she said.
She said that people should seize every opportunity they could because as she can testify, life is short and chances don’t come around a second time.
Her first preference vote of 8,072 (10.9%) but when her running mate in Carlow, Cllr Des Hurley, was eliminated she received half of his votes pushing her on top and when Sinn Fein’s Kathleen Funchion was eliminated on the 12th count her votes pushed Deputy Phelan over the line. She paid tribute to Cllr Hurley and said that the voting pact had worked well to ensure a Labour seat for both counties and living on the border with Carlow she promised not to leave Carlow down.
On making history, she said it was amazing and that it was still sinking in. She thanked all those who voted her and all the people who helped in her campaign. Her final words were for her family and her campaign manager Michael O’Brien who was unavoidably absent from the country due to a family wedding in Cornwall.