INDEPENDENT Limerick city candidate Sarah Jane Hennelly has been headhunted by Dublin South TD Shane Ross to join the growing Independent Alliance, ahead of next year’s elections.
Last week Ms Hennelly, 27, who lost out in the 2014 local elections in the City East district, met with Deputy Ross in Dublin to discuss the possibility of joining the new alliance.
In recent weeks, the Independent candidate has also met with Wicklow and East Carlow TD Stephen Donnelly, who is joint-leader of the new Social Democrats party.
According to TD Shane Ross, they are seeking more candidates to represent the alliance, which was set up earlier this year.
He told the Limerick Leader this week that Ms Hennelly “represents change” and that she has “got youth, energy and ideals”.
“I realised how well she had done in the elections the last time, and I inquired about her, and I asked a few people down in Limerick about her and they told me she was an absolute dynamo and would be a real addition to any team which wants to change Irish politics.
“I made the initial approach and she responded. I met her in Dublin a couple of times. We met last week again and she met some others from the Independent Alliance, and it went extremely well I thought.
“She would be a very welcome addition to what we have, which is a real mix of Independents who are determined to radicalise Irish politics,” he explained.
Ms Hennelly said that she thinks the alliance is a “brilliant movement”.
“If I were to be a member of the Independent Alliance, I would still be able to retain my own local policies, but also tackle the issues which are important for Limerick but nationally, which are cronyism - in terms of Ministerial appointments - and public accountability.”
Ms Hennelly said that she met with TD Stephen Donnelly in the capital, two weeks ago, to learn more about the Social Democrats, and added that it is a movement that she has “always wanted to see happen in the country”.
She said that she has known Deputy Donnelly for a number of months, and that she first approached him seeking advice on running as an Independent in next year’s general election.
“I was aware that he had done a lot of work with other Independents across the country, so I wanted to meet him, and just see what kind of information he could impart; knowledge or experience in terms of running a general election as an Independent.”
Deputy Donnelly told the Leader that he cannot comment on individual potential candidates, as the party has not held official talks yet.
“In a professional capacity, me as a TD, I have met Sarah Jane on several occasions. I spoke at the Limerick Spring after an invite from her, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I saw her there, and I think she’s a very impressive person,” he said.
Ms Hennelly said that “there are so many options” for her, and that she wants to take her time to consider the best way to bring about change at a national level.
“It’s [Independent Alliance] way more fascinating than what people think it is. Setting up an alliance without a whip system is something that we should be looking at. That being said, a political party with a clear ideology is what we need in this country at the same time.”