All to fight for in as election heats up in Kerry

Cllr Norma Foley (left) will join Cllr Norma Moriarty (right) on the ticket along with Deputy John Brassil

NORMA Foley has placed improvements in health care, particularly ensuring a better hospital service, at the top of her priority list as she readies herself for the general election campaign.

As first revealed by last night, the Tralee schoolteacher has been added to the ticket by Fianna Fail and she will join outgoing TD, Deputy John Brassil and Waterville based councillor Norma Moriarty as the party’s flagbearers.

Cllr Foley, a poll-topping member on Kerry County Council for the Tralee Municipal District, said the healthcare sector in Kerry needs to be improved.

“A better hospital service, curtail the exodus of rural GPs and an improved capacity in our hospitals is required,” she said.

“Waiting lists have soared across the board. Daily, the numbers of people waiting on hospital trolleys is into the 500s and 600s and this with the supposed winter plan in effect, Cllr Foley stated.

Former Fianna Fail TD, the late John O’Leary, was a big vote winner

While FF party chiefs are currently insisting that a fourth candidate will not be added before the election, experienced political observers say they might be forced to have a major rethink on that given all-important geographical considerations.

Two of the three candidates are based in north Kerry, with Deputy Brassil in Ballyheighue and Cllr Foley in Tralee, and the other candidate, Cllr Norma Moriarty, is in the deep south west of the county in Waterville.

That strategy all but concedes Killarney and East Kerry – a traditionally crucial battleground – to other parties and independents with the Healy-Rae organisation having most to gain.

The late Fianna Fail TD John O’Leary always enjoyed great support in East Kerry – he had 31 years of unbroken service in the Dáil – but the Fianna Fail vote in the area has dropped dramatically since the late Jackie Healy-Rae broke away from the party and ran as an independent in the 1997 general election.

Party leader Micheál Martin knows that to gain seats in the next election, constituencies like Kerry are key and party strategists reckon a Brassil-Moriarty-Foley ticket provides the best chance of making a gain, despite the obvious strength of the Healy-Raes, high-profile Minister of State Brendan Griffin and Sinn Fein which has a enjoyed a firm grip in Tralee over the past decade and more.

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