Wednesday 7 December 2016

Sligo's Lazarus to confirm his resurrection

Greg Harkin

Published 23/02/2016 | 02:30

John Perry meets Philip McCaffrey in Sligo. Photo: Mark Condren
John Perry meets Philip McCaffrey in Sligo. Photo: Mark Condren

He is the political equivalent of Lazarus, dropped by his party, only to be reinstated to the election ticket after a dramatic High Court case.

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But John Perry believes that he can now prove everyone wrong and retain his seat in the next Dáil.

Sligo/Leitrim is a four-seat constituency once more, having been a three-seater as Sligo/North Leitrim, which returned one FF, one FG and one SF TD last time out.

The new constituency also includes west Cavan and south Donegal, much to the annoyance of the 12,000 people on the periphery.

Fine Gael is running three candidates, with outgoing TDs John Perry and Tony McLoughlin and former TD Gerry Reynolds vying for the pro-government vote.

But Perry's very stand against the party could see him top the poll.

"People know I'm a fighter," says Perry. "I fought for people all my life and I wasn't going to stop fighting when I was told I couldn't stand for the Dáil.

"If anything, the difficulty (the court case) has helped because I have been getting a massive reaction on the canvass.

"People here know I've never been a 'yes' man, that I will fight for them and their problems regardless."

The election of SF's Michael Colreavy in 2011 was a major surprise, so the party is well placed to hold on to that seat this time around - although hopes of SF taking a second seat may have faded if national polls showing a decline in party support turn out to be a reality.

Chris MacManus, a former borough councillor and son of long-serving councillor Seán MacManus, is based in Sligo town, while also running is Leitrim councillor Martin Kenny.

Both are being supported on the ground in the Donegal and Cavan districts by a large Sinn Féin canvassing team since the autumn in towns like Bundoran and Ballyshannon in Donegal and Ballyconnell, Kinawley and Killashandra in Cavan.

Fianna Fáil has selected Senator Marc MacSharry, son of ex-Tánaiste Ray MacSharry.

He failed to win last time, leaving the constituency minus a FF TD.

He will be up against councillor and former TD Eamon Scanlon from Ballymote, who lost his seat last time out but who some party officials are tipping to be ahead of MacSharry.

Labour has selected Senator Susan O'Keeffe but she has no chance.

Former Labour TD Declan Bree, on the other hand, does.

He is popular locally and will be in contention to take a seat as an Independent, as will schoolteacher Marie Casserly.

Renua Ireland is also running here with Finbarr Filan, the brother of Westlife's Shane, adding a touch of celebrity to the count centre on Saturday.

Sinn Féin, FG and FF should all take seats with candidates from all three parties battling Bree and Casserly for the fourth seat.

Prediction: FG, FF, SF, IND.

Sligo-Leitrim

Candidates:4 seats

FG John Perry TD, FG Tony McLoughlin TD, FG Gerry Reynolds, LAB Susan O'Keeffe, FF Eamon Scanlon, FF Marc MacSharry, SF Chris MacManus, SF Martin Kenny, PBPA Nigel Gallagher, R Finbarr Filan, GP Leslie O'Hora, IA Marie Casserly, IND Declan Bree, IND Des Guckian, IND Bernard Sweeney, IND Gary Smylie.

Irish Independent

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