Mary O'Rourke's son to contest by-election
FIANNA Fail has selected Westmeath county councillor Aengus O'Rourke to contest the upcoming by-election in the Longford-Westmeath constituency.
The Athlone based councillor is the son of former minster Mary O'Rourke and was considered a favourite after party headquarters issued a controversial directive insisting the by-election candidate must be based in the Athlone electoral branch.
In the end O'Rourke ran uncontested after Cllr Frankie Keena and Vinny McCormack, both based in Westmeath, pulled out of the race. They had been the only two members who had confirmed they would run against O'Rourke.
Party members, including councillors who had originally intended to contest the selection nomination, reacted furiously when the directive was ordered.
Sitting councillor Martin Mulleady previously told the Irish Independent that party leader Micheal Martin had "serious questions to answer".
The Dail seat became vacant following the passing of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFaddden who died in March following a long battle with motor-neuron disease.
The party HQ's decision to favour an Athlone-based candidate is seen as an effort strengthen the party's hand ahead of the next general election and to target Fine Gael's Gabrielle McFadden, the sister of the late TD and mayor of Athlone, who is expected to win the Fine Gael nomination.