New Haughey hopeful says family name a mixed blessing

The latest member of the Haughey family seeking election to local office has said his family name comes with “strengths and weaknesses”.

Cathal Haughey hopes to be the newest member of Ireland’s most famous political dynasty and is running for Fianna Fáil in Clontarf, north Dublin, in May’s local elections.

His family tree shows deep roots in Irish politics.

Cathal is the son of Conor Haughey, whose brother is Fianna Fáil TD Seán Haughey, a former junior minister.

His great-grandfather and grandfather both served as Taoiseach. Charles J Haughey was married to the late Maureen Lemass, the daughter of the late Seán Lemass, a veteran of the War of Independence and Civil War, who also served as Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader.

“I suppose it [the family name] comes with strengths and weaknesses,” said Cathal.

“Obviously, Seán and Charles have represented the area in the past, so there is a strong link to the name.

“But for other people, they wouldn’t be a fan of Charles, or of Seán or of Fianna Fáil – it’s swings and roundabouts.”

“I would say anyone is entitled to put their name forward for election,” he added.

“I’m putting myself forward, and the strengths and weaknesses of my name are something I have to live with.”

In recent months, the 22-year-old Dublin City University student has been canvassing in the ward he will contest for a seat in – which includes Clontarf, Raheny, Killester and Donnycarney.

He said he had received a “largely positive” reception.

Cathal will run alongside Fianna Fáil party stalwart Deirdre Heney.

The party did well in the 2014 local elections, becoming the largest party at local level, and is looking to add to its numbers this time around, despite a poor performance in recent polls.

The elections will also be the first electoral test following the party’s division on the issue of repealing the Eighth Amendment, which left it seemingly out of touch with the mood of the nation.

However, with a number of candidates in their 20s and 30s, the party is “on the right track to get the new blood in”, Cathal said.

While this is his first tilt at elected office, unsurprisingly given his family history, Cathal has long been involved in the Fianna Fáil party and is currently Dublin chair of its youth wing Ógra Fianna Fáil and chair of the party’s DCU branch.

He said he could not point to which of his high-profile relatives his politics were more closely modelled on, saying that they were all very different, but he said that his uncle Seán, who is currently TD for Dublin Bay North, had been a mentor.

Cathal worked as director of elections for his uncle in 2014, when he won a council seat, and in 2016, when he was re-elected to the Dáil.

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