EDUCATION Minister Jan O’Sullivan is “made of tough stuff” and Labour is “ready for the battle” of the upcoming election.
That’s according to Tanaiste and Labour party leader Joan Burton, who was in Limerick for a think-tank.
Limerick City is expected to be a battleground in the next election, with all four sitting TDs seeking to retain their seats.
They will be challenged by Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan, and Cllr Cian Prendiville of the Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA), with others also entering the fray.
Some political observers have predicted that a Sinn Fein surge would come largely at the expense of the Labour Party which has seen it ratings tumble since it entered government with Fine Gael. But Ms Burton said: “Labour is absolutely ready for the battle. It is going to be a tough battle, but I think Jan is made of tough stuff.”
Ms O’Sullivan has held her Dail seat since she was elected in a 1998 by-election following the death of her political mentor Jim Kemmy.
She said: “It is going to be a battle. But I have always been a very dedicated public representative for Limerick. It will be competitive, we are down from five to four seats last time, and all four sitting TDs are running again, plus there will be a large number of other candidates.”
She believes her record in serving Limerick will see her over the line.
“I believe I have consistently represented Limerick well. I believe I am available in a way not all public representatives are in the sense that I do regular clinics. And I also have had a very important job at national level,” she told the Limerick Chronicle.
That said, Ms O’Sullivan is not underestimating the challenge.
“I have always engaged with people anyway, and I am absolutely aware it will be a battle,” she added.
Around 50 people protested outside Ms O’Sullivan’s office on Thursday in opposition to reductions to the Lone Parent grant, which sees parents of children over seven stop getting the weekly boost.
It was part of a co-ordinated effort against Labour party representatives across the country.
Ms O’Sullivan said it was “probably fair enough” that people were protesting outside her office.
“People have a right to protest. People should not protest outside private homes. But they are protesting outside my office. I understand it was peaceful, unlike the protest outside the Dail. I do respect people’s right to protest.
“It is difficult for people who are using the office, but it is people’s democratic right,” she concluded. The general election must take place no later than next April, with the Labour Party pushing to finish out the five-year term.