THE poster boy for young Fine Gael put his poll topping performance down to the small army of volunteers who came out to campaign for the Tullougher man.
Senator John Paul Phelan’s campaign team were inundated by volunteers who wanted to hit the campaign trail with the Fine Gael senator who had narrowly missed out on election in 2007.
“We had huge numbers out campaigning for us we had over 200 in total. We had so many that we used to have to ring people and ask them not to come. I mean the two days we were in Kilkenny city, we got it covered in two instead of four days. We had 105 different people over the two days. That’s what its all down to. I mean I wouldn’t be getting anywhere with out their support,” said the newly elected TD.
The huge number of volunteers built on the exposure that John Paul Phelan had gained by running in previous elections.
In the general election in 2007 he narrowly missed out, and he ran again unsuccessfully in the European elections in 2009.
The newly elected deputy doesn’t see either as a negative experience. He said “Having ran the last time, and particularly having run in the European election, helped raise the profile.
“The biggest challenge facing any politician is to be known and the European election while I didn’t win, it made me known by people across the constituency.”
Although, he topped the first preference count in Cillin Hill on Saturday with 10929 votes. The strict vote management of the Fine Gael team meant that over the course of 12 counts he only received 1288 transfers. It took until the 13th count for the poll topper to get over quota of 12,291. When he was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Deputy Phelan will be one of the youngest TD’s in the 31st Dail and because of this and his previous role as Seanad spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, he’s well aware of the problems facing his peers. “The biggest issue is jobs and the economy. During the election I met so many parents who had children who were gone to Australia, Canada or Britain so we have to take immediate action and I’m glad that even two days before the election Enda announced a new jobs bill that would be introduced in the first 100 days. So, we have to make serious inroads in to that problem, obviously there are a lot of other things that have to change but that has to be the main one,” he said.