Friday 28 July 2017

Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor selected to represent party in Dun Laoghaire

Mary Mitchell O'Connor
Mary Mitchell O'Connor
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

FINE Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor has been selected to represent the party in the Dun Laoghaire constituency.

Ms O’Connor fended off a challenge from two prominent councillors and will now battle for the party in one of the most contested constituencies in Dublin.

The close contest expected in Dun Laoghaire is compounded by the fact that just three seats are up for grabs. This is due to presence of Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

Fine Gael is confident that Mr Barrett will remain in his position until at least after the General Election despite previous suggestions that he may resign.

Mr Barrett claimed in December that he was considering a return to the backbenches and may turn down the free Dail run afforded to holders of his office.

“That’s a decision I have to take. I wouldn’t like to leave here without having the experience of saying what I thought about certain things. And I can do that on the backbenches," he said at the time.

The TD’s remarks sparked speculation surrounding his  potential replacement with a number of senior Fine Gael TDs linked to the prestigious post.

But Mr Barrett is now expected to contest the election as Ceann Comhairle in a move that effectively reduces the Dun Laoghaire constituency from four seats to just three.

While a spokesperson for Mr Barrett yesterday said he had no comment to make surrounding his intentions, a number of Fine Gael sources have played down his previous remarks.

“Barrett is keeping things close to his chest, as is his nature, but there’s no doubt he will take the free pass,” said one minister.

Mr Barrett was precluded from attending last night’s Fine Gael selection convention in Dun Laoghaire which won by Ms O’Connor.

Party sources said, however, that Ms O’Connor was continuing to canvass support yesterday amid concerns she could be defeated.

The Dail deputy was being challenged by sitting councillors Maria Bailey and Barry Ward.

Party sources pointed to the fortunes of Jobs Minister Richard Bruton who lost his convention before being added to the ticket in Dun Bay North.

The Dun Laoghaire constituency is set to be hotly contested. Fianna Fail has its own internal battle for a place on the ticket involving former minister Mary Hanafin and councillors Kate Feeney, Jennifer Cuffe and Cormac Devlin.

Labour has to select a candidate after sitting TD and former leader Eamon Gilmore announced his intentions to step down at the next election. Councillor Deirdre Kingston has declared her intentions to contest the election, however, senator Ivana Bacik is also believed to be interested in running.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett is expected to hold onto his seat.

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