Labour MEP breaks EU vow in bid for Dail seat
LABOUR MEP Alan Kelly last night broke his pledge to stay in Brussels for a full five-year term when he announced plans to run in the imminent General Election.
The Ireland South MEP was only elected to serve in Brussels in June 2009 and had vowed to serve a full term.
But in a widely expected U-turn, it was announced by Labour leader Eamon Gilmore that Mr Kelly would be seeking a general election nomination.
The MEP is expected to be unchallenged for the party's nomination in Tipperary North next week.
In May 2009, at the height of the European elections, the then candidate responded to a Fine Gael challenge by ruling himself out of any Dail contest in the next five years.
At the time, Mr Kelly said it was his "firm intention to serve the full five years as an MEP if elected". He made that pledge after Fine Gael accused him of using the European Parliament as a "PR exercise" to raise his profile for a future Dail campaign.
Mr Kelly last night insisted his decision to run in the General Election had not been an easy one. But this week's announcement of a New Year election had forced him to make a decision now, he added.
Hundreds of constituents, he said, had been asking him if he planned on running in the imminent election.
And he denied his U-turn on serving out a full term in Brussels would be damaging.
"I don't think there's any chance of that. I will be speaking directly to people in Tipperary North in the next couple of days. . . I'm very closely knitted into north Tipperary. I think I've a very good relationship with them," Mr Kelly said.
If Mr Kelly wins a seat, he has lined up Kerry councillor Arthur Spring as his first substitute to take over in Brussels.
In the event of Mr Spring getting elected in Kerry North, the position will fall to Labour senator Phil Prendergast, who is also a General Election candidate in Tipperary South.
The third substitute for Brussels is Limerick councillor Joe Leddin, who is also an election candidate. If all three were to be elected, councillor Virginia O'Dowd in Nenagh would become the Labour MEP for Ireland South as she is not an election candidate.
Meanwhile, Mr Gilmore yesterday confirmed that senator Ivana Bacik has informed him she would be seeking a nomination in Dun Laoghaire to become his running mate.
Mr Gilmore said he was "very pleased" with that move. And he said his running mate should be announced "very soon" following a selection convention before Christmas.