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Friday 21 July 2017

Blow to Fine Gael as third TD bows out of electoral race

Brian McDonald

FINE Gael was reeling yesterday after being hit by a triple whammy of resignations in the run-up to the General Election.

Just when it seemed things could not get any better for the main opposition party, with Fianna Fail imploding daily, Enda Kenny has seen three of his electoral certainties bow out in the last four days.

Yesterday it was the turn of Galway East TD Ulick Burke (67) to confirm that he would not stand in the forthcoming General Election. He joins Galway East colleague Paul Connaughton (66) and Cavan-Monaghan's Seymour Crawford (66), who also announced this week they were bowing out of Dail Eireann.

It brings to 13 the number of outgoing TDs from all parties who will step down once the General Election is held. All three Fine Gael deputies who announced their decision to quit this week insisted they were getting out to allow the new generation of Fine Gael to come through.

Problems

But it creates real problems for Mr Kenny, especially in Galway East, where Fine Gael and Fianna Fail each hold two of the four seats. Now the party will be seeking to hold the seats with candidates who, apart from one, have never stood in a general election under the Fine Gael banner before.

It already appears that Paul Connaughton's son, Paul Jr, a member of Galway County Council, will be among the front-runners for the vacancy created by his father's departure. He will probably be joined by Tuam councillor Tom McHugh.

The Mayor of Co Galway, Jimmy McClearn; former PD leader and senator Ciaran Cannon; and councillors Michael Mullins and Peter Feeney will be battling it out for a place on the ticket in Loughrea-Ballinasloe.

On his decision not to stand, Mr Burke said: "I am a bit disillusioned, I suppose.

"I think we have let down people, like the elderly and parents of children with special needs. These people should be our priorities and they are not treated as such."

Irish Independent

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