Sunday 23 October 2016

Kenny backs Conlan despite arrest over alleged bar brawl

Philip Ryan, Daniel McConnell and Niall O'Connor

Published 11/09/2015 | 02:30

Arrested by appointment: Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan
Arrested by appointment: Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny still has confidence in Fine Gael TD Sean Conlan, despite his arrest over an alleged bar room brawl which resulted in a man receiving medical attention.

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Mr Kenny backed Mr Conlan as party members were told Fine Gael is fully prepared for an election at the party's parliamentary 'think-in' at Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare, Limerick.

TDs and senators were told the party's manifesto and posters are "ready to go" should the Taoiseach call a snap election.

But senior figures sought to play down the possibility of the country going to the polls in November.

The Taoiseach came under fire at the think in over Mr Conlan's arrest in relation to a bar fight in his family bar last month

Mr Kenny said "of course" he had confidence in the Cavan/Monaghan TD but insisted "the law will take its course".

Mr Conlan has claimed he was attacked during the incident in his family bar in Ballybay because he was a member of Government.

He is so far the only person who has been arrested in relation to the incident in which gardaí have said a man in his 20s required medical attention.

"Sean Conlan is an elected member of the Fine Gael party and a Dáil deputy. He has been selected by his constituency convention to contest the next election, of course I have (confidence in him)," Mr Kenny said.

Earlier this week, Mr Conlan refused to directly express confidence in Mr Kenny when asked several times by his local radio station Northern Sound.

"The question is not relevant because Enda Kenny will be leader of the party," Mr Conlan said. "He is the leader of our party and I support our leader and until they change our leadership I will be supporting the leader."

Mr Conlan also suggested he has been the subject of media attention because he publicly criticised the Taoiseach over the John McNulty Seanad election fiasco.

Speaking today, Mr Kenny said Fine Gael members in Cavan/Monaghan had selected Mr Conlan, along with Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and TD Joe O'Reilly, in a "very democratic process".

"I can't speculate on allegations that circulate in the media. Obviously, the convention was convened to make a decision and it made its decision very clearly," he added.

Pressed on whether Mr Conlan will be de-selected by the party should he face charges over the incident, the Taoiseach said: "It is not for me to comment on allegations that were made; obviously the law will take its course, if it has to take its course in any situation."

Mr Kenny also said the Government will stay inside the parameters outlined in the 'Spring Statement' when it announces the Budget next month

He said ministers will have tough choices to make in their departments ahead of the Budget and urged them to think carefully before they make requests to the Department of Finance for funding.

"Despite the lists ministers might have, they to do have to make choices and decide what the priorities for their departments are," Mr Kenny said.

He said Ireland still faced economic challenge despite the strong economic growth and exchequer returns.

At the behind-closed-doors meeting in Adare, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who chairs Fine Gael's election committee, told party members they should not be concerned by Renua as he did not believe it will make an impact at the polls.

However, he warned that the recently formed Social Democrats could pose a threat as they are seen as "credible" by the electorate and could run a number of high profile candidates.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said Fine Gael and Labour have a good relationship but it has been "tested at times".

He pledged to urge voters when canvassing to give Labour their number two votes after voting for Fine Gael.

He also said the prospect of the Coalition returning to government could improve as the election date nears.

Irish Independent

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