Tuesday 20 February 2018

FG option to add Perry to the ticket is 'still in play'

Sligo-Leitrim TD John Perry outside the High Court. Photo: Courtpix
Sligo-Leitrim TD John Perry outside the High Court. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran says the option of adding Deputy John Perry as a third candidate for the general election is "still in play".

Mr Curran told the High Court that, with Fine Gael's standing up to 32pc in the polls, it is "possible for the party to look again at this".

It was the fifth day of Mr Perry's action seeking a new selection convention to be held in Sligo-Leitrim.

Mr Perry says the convention result of last October should be set aside because of serious irregularities in how it was run.

Mr Curran said at the time of the convention the party was at 28pc, but it was normal practice to look again and decide to add candidates.

Regardless of the outcome of Mr Perry's case, he would recommend to the party's executive council to look at it and see "can we justify everybody's desires at the same time as protecting the need to win two seats by having a third candidate".

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said that, since this case began last week, Mr Curran had every opportunity to consider such an approach.

Earlier, Mr Curran said at a meeting to discuss electoral strategy with Mr Perry last June, Mr Perry was asked what would happen if he was not selected at convention.

He replied: "John Perry goes Independent."

In relation to Mr Perry's complaint that a sister of one of the winning candidates had been seen putting ballot papers into the box, he said he had investigated that matter. He was satisfied she was doing it at the request of three elderly voters.

He said a letter he wrote a week after the convention to returning officer Darragh Kelly - and which was presented to the court only yesterday - was written because he wanted to put on file some of his unhappiness about certain things that happened on the night.


In the letter, Mr Curran referred to "chaotic organisation" - including there not being enough voting tables, voting lists being left on the tables and lack of recording problems with voter registration and early voters.

Mr Curran's cross-examination takes place today.

Earlier, the court heard the Perry side had applied to have the Fine Gael defence struck out over failure to disclose certain documents as part of the pre-trial process.

Patrick McCann SC, for Fine Gael, said all the material had been supplied over the weekend and it should have been provided as part of pre-trial discovery. For that, his side apologised.

Mr Justice Gilligan said he did not believe the Perry side was prejudiced by the failure to disclose, as he now had the material. His lawyers could recall any witnesses they wanted to deal with those matters.

Irish Independent

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