IRA links never came up on the doorstep insists Sinn Fein general election winner in Tipperary

New TD Martin Browne said young people had more pressing issues on their minds

Eamon Lacey

Reporter:

Eamon Lacey

Email:

elacey@nationalist.ie

The Easter Rising 1916 scarf was rolled out, the tricolour unfurled and a rousing rendition of Oro Se Do Bheatha 'Bhaile heralded the election of Sinn Fein's Martin Browne at the count centre on Monday afternoon.
Surrounded by jubilant supporters, emotional family members and two other elected Sinn Fein TDs David Cullinane (Waterford) and Maurice Quinlivan (Limerick) was lifted shoulder high to celebrate an incredible achievement.
It represented an amazing transformation in political fortunes for Martin Browne who just last May failed to hold onto his seat in the local elections.
He had turned local election failure into a stunning electoral general election performance which saw him elected to the 33rd Dail in less than a year.
Browne, riding high on the Sinn Fein surge that swept the whole country, received an astonishing vote in Tipperary.

The Cashel man, who put housing and mental health services in Tipperary as two of his top priorities, received more first preferences than four sitting TDs . He outpolled the sitting Mayor of Clonmel Garret Ahearn in Clonmel and in Carrick on Suir he took a huge chunk of a vote that would normally have gone to Seamus Healy who lost his Dail seat.
In previous elections Seamus Healy would have benefited greatly from the distribution of votes from Sinn Fein but on this occasion that trend was reversed with the eliminated Healy's votes providing the Sinn Fein candidate with massive boost of over 2,000 votes in the eighth count to crucially keep him ahead of both Alan Kelly and Jackie Cahill in the race for seats.
The figures tell the story of the election. Martin Browne out voted Healy in the Carrick on Suir LEA with 19% of the vote compared to 13% for Healy in an area, particularly in the urban area, in which Healy had established a strong network for a long number of years.

Browne took Healy's seat and that Carrick outcome had a huge bearing on that.If he took Healy's seat, Browne was also responsible for holding off the challenge of Fine Gael hopeful Garret Ahearn. Ahearn would have been looking to both Clonmel, where he is the serving mayor, and Cahir as his strongholds, but Browne outpolled him in both, by a very narrow margin in Clonmel,(14.8% to 14.1% in Clonmel) and in Cahir (13.6% to 11.2%).

Married to Helen, they have four children - Gavin,Cathrine, Molly and Martin.

Martin Browne was co-opted onto a Cashel town council seat in 2013 when his late brother Michael passed away. His brother Michael was an unsuccessful general election candidate at a previous election.
Martin won a seat on the amalgamated Tipperary County Council in 2014 , a seat he lost last year. He is very involved in his native Cashel in the Meals on Wheels service and in the local camogie club.
After his election he said that "people are fed up of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael for decades, we will bring a freshness to it, people wanted change, we will not let people down"
"I am a very proud man today to be elected to Dail Eireann one hundred and two years after the Pearse McCann was elected. I am very proud to be a member of the Pearse McCann Sinn Fein cumman in Cashel."
Browne maintains Sinn Fein's connections to the IRA was not an issue on the doorstep during his general election canvas
He claimed Sinn Fein's links with the IRA didn't come up on the doorsteps as an issue during his election canvass. It wasn't on the agenda, he said. It was an issue that concerned RTE and the national media. He said young people had more pressing issues on their minds.
When asked was he happy with Sinn Fein's support for violence in the past, he said: “We have never said we have supported violence. We understood what was going on in the North. We are not going to condemn what people had to do."
Referring to the questions over Sinn Fein's connections to the IRA, he asked when does it stop, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years. “There is history in all parties. It's time people realise, especially in the national media that young people have better issues to think about. We have never denied people that were in the struggle. There was trouble on both sides and both sides suffered.”
Looking back to last May when he lost his seat to first time out Sinn Fein running mate Tony Black, Bowne said it was a very low day for him.
“It was a very difficult time, it was particularly hard for my family. I felt it more for them when it happened. I had been a councillor for seven years, it is hard when you lose,” he said.
It was a very different story on this occasion. What astounded people on tally watch for the mainstream parties from 9am on Sunday morning was the scale of the support from Sinn Fein in every part of the county.
“Martin received massive votes in areas where they would not know Martin from Adam”, said Muiris Suilleabhain, Sinn Fein tally expert.
To him, the stand out figure to reflect the Sinn Fein vote came in the Roscrea/Templemore area.
“Sinn Fein received 13.5% of the vote there. We just have one cumman in Roscrea.
They would not know Martin Browne at all, that was an incredible vote to get there”, said Muiris.

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