By RTÉ.ie journalist Blathnaid Healy

Barack Obama may have the support of Moneygall, Co Offaly, but it emerged that Republican party presidential hopeful John McCain has Ballybofey on his side.

The Vietnam War Veteran has been endorsed by The Finn Valley Voice in a front-page article headlined ‘Vote for Cousin John McCain’.

The article reveals the US Senator’s links to Co Donegal by way of his distant cousin Ivan Knox, a well-known Ballybofey businessman.

The discovery was made by a US geneticist Barra McCain, Mr McCain’s eighth cousin, who carried out Y-Chromosome research.

He found some 400 people in the Finn Valley who could be related to the presidential candidate.

Mr McCain’s relatives in Co Donegal are the equivalent of ninth cousins and spell their surname slightly differently.

The McKanes or McKeans were cousins of the senator’s ancestor Alexander McCain who emigrated to the US from Co Antrim in the eighteenth century. However Alexander’s uncle stayed in Ireland and eventually his children moved to the Finn Valley.

Finn Valley Voice Journalist Pat Holland says Mr McCain is as important to Ireland as John F Kennedy, but in a completely different way.

The Finn Valley area of Co Donegal, according to Mr Holland, is one of the only parts of the Republic that has a similar demographic to that of Northern Ireland.

Mr Holland said that the senator is very important because he is a symbol of the Finn Valley community and pluralist Ireland.

Mr Holland says he likes the Arizona politician. 'I don’t see anything in his policies to scare me,' Mr Holland said adding that he probably had the right approach on the Iraq War.

Mr McCain voted in favour of the Iraq, but he wanted the US to invade with more troops. He also supported the recent troop surge.

Mr Holland thinks his newspapers endorsement will help ‘a little’, but does not think the Irish-American community in the US will swing in behind him in the same way they would for a candidate with an obvious Irish surname.

He is hopeful that Mr McCain will win the Republican nomination from other candidates Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. He said if the senator became the next president of the US it would be great for Ireland.

'It would be a good for the Finn Valley,' Mr Holland said. 'It would put us on the tourist map.'

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