Beezer still smiling
MacLochlainn set for Dail
debut next Wednesday
by Caoimhinn Barr, Inishowen
More than two decades after the tragic death of his
father Reamonn during a family holiday, former painter
decorator Padraig MacLochlainn has fulfilled his
Elected to the Dail for the first time last weekend, the
affable Buncrana man, known as Paddy or Beezer in his
hometown, was quick to pay tribute to his supporters and
political inspiration Eddie Fullerton.
An Aston Villa football fan, MacLochlainn left school at
the age of 14 before embarking on a political journey,
which will make its first stop in Leinster House next
A father of one, Dillon (17), MacLochlainn is also a
step-father to one; his partner Sinead’s son, Calvin,
A son of Mary MacLochalinn, Padraig completed a
university diploma courtesy of a distance learning
facility before becoming a tradesmen. He claims he
learned more as a painter on sites than he ever did in
Rarely out of the spotlight, Inishowen’s smiliest TD
likes to escape to the cinema where he enjoys the
‘magic’ of movies such as the Shawshank Redemption and
MacLochalinn also likes to escape to Catalunya in Spain,
a ‘distinct and marvellous’ region with which he
It must be a humbling
experience to know that so many people took time out to
vote for you last week?
Absolutely. I am totally thrilled. I am very humbled by
the ongoing support I receive in Inishowen. There wasn’t
a single parish across the peninsula in which we were
down. We were up more than five hundred votes on 2007
despite the fact that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail both ran
very popular local candidates in Charlie McConalogue and
John Ryan. I will work hard to honour the support shown
Did you think you would top the poll by such a wide
margin? Did you have any fears that you might miss out
Logically, I was expecting to increase our vote
considerably from four years ago but there were some
doubts for sure. Towards the end you start thinking that
maybe people won’t come out to vote. So many people were
saying – Padraig’s going to top the poll – that I was
afraid they would vote for someone else because they
thought I would get in anyway. A lot of voters have told
me since that they opted for John or Charlie because
they knew I would get elected anyway. It has taken us
ten years but we have made it and I am determined too do
justice to my party and supporters for the faith they
have shown in me.
You must be delighted
that the SF vote was strong not just in Inishowen but
across the entire constituency?
Yeah it was a great result. The last time  we were
strong in Inishowen but only got ten per cent of the
vote in Letterkenny and Milford and that wasn’t good
enough to get elected. This time I could tell there was
a change across the constituency; you could sense a
swing towards Sinn Fein. I was blessed with a fantastic
election team. I relied heavily on the quality of my
canvassers and they did not let me down. Out of 30,000
homes across the constituency I only made it personally
to around 2,000. The rest of the homes were covered by
an immense election team.
After such a narrow loss
in 2007 was your victory this time all the sweeter?
Yes! (laughs). Definitely. After hitting the crossbar
the last time, many party members were devastated and in
tears. Something clicked with me four years ago after I
lost. A calm came over me. Because we were so close I
was determined to be gracious in defeat and I knew I
would be back. I could see the trajectory was clearly
moving up. It means so much for the members and
supporters that we made it this time and I’m over the
moon for them. It is a huge weight off my shoulders to
finally make it over the line.
You will become a new young face on the Dail. Your
success did not happen overnight though?
No it hasn’t. We put in the miles and the hard work over
the years. After the defeat of 2007 it was like getting
to the County Final and losing by a point. We had to get
back to training in the pouring rain and do it all over
I have secured good national experience in recent years.
I led the successful SF campaign against the Lisbon
Treaty in 2008 before running in the European elections
the following year. I have travelled up and down the
country to deal with national issues for the last few
Newly-elected TD, Pádraig MacLochlainn
from Buncrana warmly greets Mary Nelis at Free Derry
Your father Reamonn
MacLochlainn died in 1985. Eddie Fullerton was shot dead
20 years ago this May. Do you owe a great debt to both?
Yes. My father is the reason I became a politician. He
was a republican prisoner and I grew up travelling
across England to visit him in jail. I was born into
politics. We returned home when my father was release in
1983. Two years later he died in a swimming tragedy when
we were on a family holiday in county Clare. I was only
twelve years-old and it was a tremendous loss.
Eddie Fullerton was a huge figure for me after that. He
was a very warm compassionate man. He worked extremely
hard for everybody, regardless of their religion or
politics. Eddie would have become a TD. His death had a
massive impact on me. I was 17 at the time he was shot.
I promised myself then that Sinn Fein would become
stronger here and that we would win a seat.
It wasn’t plain sailing though because we lost our
county council seat in 1999 and, to be honest, we
deserved to lose it because we weren’t working for the
people in Inishowen. We forget what Eddie had taught us.
After filling his seat in the Buncrana Town Council in
2002 I met Pearse [Doherty] and a group of senior
republicans. We came up with a ten-year plan to take
Dail seats. We almost did it in five! (laughs). But we
got there in the end.
Political differences aside, is it good for Inishowen
that Charlie got elected too?
I think so, yes. The people of Inishowen gave both me
and Charlie a massive mandate and we will be expected to
work together to deliver on important issues. On a
personal level I have huge respect for Charlie and no
doubt we will form a very good partnership. It is our
instinct to represent the people of Inishowen. Charlie
is an affable big fellow.
Now that you are in, what will you do for the people
My top priority must be the national banking crisis.
Sinn Fein will continue to challenge the government not
to put one more cent into the toxic banks. If we pay the
bond-holders we will squeeze the life out of everything
else in the country. We will work to deliver job
creation while local issues like the Greencastle
breakwater, Cockhill Bridge, A5 and Altnagelvin cancer
centre are also high on the agenda.
Will you continue to live here in Inishowen?
God yeah! (laughs). I will be in Dublin from Tuesday to
Thursday and here the rest of the time.
Is it Padraig or Pauric?
It’s Padraig. Though people call me Pauric all the time.
I also get Paddy and Beezer in Buncrana.