Saturday 1 October 2016

Tony would not approve - Gregory's brother slams O'Sullivan's Dáil chair bid

Laura Larkin and Kevin Doyle

Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30

Noel Gregory,brother of the late Tony Gregory,TD and Maureen O'Sullivan,TD following the news conference with members of the Oireachtas who are assisting in the campiagn spearheaded by Noel to have the new Liffey bridge at Marlborough street which is under construction called after his late brother Tony Gregory,TD.Pic Tom Burke 2/5/13
Noel Gregory,brother of the late Tony Gregory,TD and Maureen O'Sullivan,TD following the news conference with members of the Oireachtas who are assisting in the campiagn spearheaded by Noel to have the new Liffey bridge at Marlborough street which is under construction called after his late brother Tony Gregory,TD.Pic Tom Burke 2/5/13

The brother of Tony Gregory has said the late TD would not approve of his close friend and replacement in Leinster House Maureen O'Sullivan seeking the position of Ceann Comhairle.

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Noel Gregory, who withdrew his support for the Independent TD ahead of the General Election, said Ms O'Sullivan is moving away from left-wing politics by actively looking for the job.

Ms O'Sullivan has always run as the 'Gregory candidate', having worked alongside the inner city politician throughout his career.

The row comes as some Fine Gael TDs suggested the party hierarchy was encouraging votes for the Fianna Fáil candidate Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Senior Fine Gael figures are said to be of the belief that it could work in their favour if Mr Ó Fearghaíl were to win - as it would reduce Fianna Fáil numbers to 39 in any future talks about a coalition. However, sources said the idea had caused concern among supporters for Andrew Doyle and Bernard Durkan, who are both running.

Kildare South TD Martin Heydon was also understood to be annoyed, as a win for Mr Ó Fearghaíl would reduce his constituency to just two seats at the next election.

Ms O'Sullivan remains the favourite, but she will need to stay ahead of Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin after the first count.

The Ceann Comhairle will be elected using the PR-STV system, meaning transfers will be vital.

Sinn Féin TDs have not been told who to give their second preference to, but it is likely most would go in Ms O'Sullivan's direction rather than to the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael nominees.

However, her efforts will not be helped by Mr Gregory's intervention.

He told the Irish Independent the fact that she was actively seeking the position "completely vindicates my stance of not supporting her in the election".

"She now wants to be part of the political establishment."

Mr Gregory backed former Lord Mayor Christy Burke, who also ran in Dublin Central during the election campaign.

He said his late brother was offered the role of Leas Ceann Comhairle, but he rejected it on the basis that it would keep him away from his constituency at key times.

"Tony's motto was always 'put the people first'," his brother said.

However, Ms O'Sullivan said that she had the full support of the Gregory group in her pursuit of the role.

"That's Noel's opinion and he is entitled to give it.

"Our supporters, some of whom were with Tony from the beginning, have discussed it at length and they are fully supportive," she said.

"They think it is an honour for us and for the constituency. It's something also that Tony was interested in being at one stage in his career.

"If I didn't have the support of the Gregory group, then I wouldn't have allowed my name to go forward."

Ms O'Sullivan said that she would still be available to her constituents.

Though she does not hold traditional clinics, she said she was easily accessible and could schedule meetings with constituents at home if necessary.

"I might have to do it in a different way but the people in my office will still be there working [for constituents]," she said.

Under legislation, the Ceann Comhairle is automatically re-elected and it is considered a coveted position in the 32 Dáil with the prospect of another election looming.

The Ceann Comhairle is precluded from active participation in politics but remains free to make representations on behalf of constituents.

Irish Independent

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