Division of constituency helps Fine Gael to second seat
"Keen as mustard" to get down to work was how Regina Doherty described herself following her election victory in Meath East. The Fine Gael councillor from Ratoath looked a certainty to be elected, along with her running mate Shane McEntee, from early in the day on Saturday, as tallies showed them at 20 and 21 per cent of the vote, respectively. She said it was a hugely rewarding feeling as she had a plan which saw her run in the 2007 general election, when she first decided to enter public life, "when I was the only loo lah who thought I could get elected! We weren't just working for the past four weeks on it." Then, she ran in the local elections in 2009 and took a seat on Meath County Council, becoming a full-time public representative. "I decided to open an office in Ratoath as I was genuine and had to show the people of Ratoath and the larger area of Dunshaughlin that I was serious. And they responded to that. "You have to put in the work and put in the effort in earnest to this and people respond. The same can be said of Dominic Hannigan who opened his office in Ashbourne," Doherty added. She received 8,677 first preferences, while McEntee took 8,794. "I didn't expect to do that well," she said. "I thought we might get around 7,300 but I think the higher than expected turnout increased that. I got votes from places I'd never even been to." She said that while she doesn't take any pleasure in people losing their seats, the electorate was sending a message to Fianna Fail. "It is a hard slog, and people enter public life because they have a passion for it. And there is a perception that it is a gravy train. Over the past few weeks, we called to houses that you wouldn't have even dreamed of before, as they would have been perceived as Fianna Fail strongholds, but we were brought in and told why they were no longer voting Fianna Fail. We struck a resonance with these people," she commented. The new Ratoath TD said that she and Shane McEntee get on very well together, and there is no in-fighting between them, although some tell her that makes candidates fight all the harder. "I believe in strategic planning. Setting out where you want to go and working back from there," she added. "We had a very good team, a brilliant package - north/south; male/female - and Shane has also the benefit of experience at that level," she added. "We complement each other." She was looking ahead to the new parliamentary party and was ready to do whatever body of work was handed to her to help to turn the country around. Sitting TD Shane McEntee said he was delighted to be re-elected, but the important thing was getting a second seat. "Anything else would have been failure," he said. "We had a target of seats in the 70s, and it is looking like that will be achieved." The party had been building a stronger base since his by-election victory in 2005, and a bigger plus was getting a large amount of men and women elected to Meath County Council in the last local elections. "There is a great team there and it great to have that back-up support and co-operation," he said. McEntee's vote increased from 6,766 in 2007 to 8,794 this year. The two candidates carved up the constituency between them. "It worked well - and we did some research a week ago and knew that it was working. But the challenge is now ahead of us. Today is a good day for the party, but on Monday morning, we have to knuckle down. The country is in a much more serious situation than people think - we experienced it on the doorsteps - so we have to sit down and do something, and do it right," he said. FG director of elections for Meath East, Kieran Coleman, who has been involved in the party at various levels for 30 years, said he had waited a long time for this day. There were 64,000 electors on the register, and it was divided between the two candidates, "slightly in Regina's favour, as Shane was better-known since the 2005 by-election," he said.