Tuesday 20 March 2018

Fine Gael TD John Perry's case against Fine Gael selection convention starts

John Perry
John Perry

Tim Healy

THE High Court has begun hearing a challenge by Fine Gael TD John Perry to the party's conduct of a selection convention at which he failed to be nominated for the forthcoming General Election.

Mr Perry alleges "serious and substantial" irregularities at the October 16 convention rendered its outcome "unlawful" and "fundamentally flawed".

Mr Perry was one of  four candidates for three nominations but was elimated on the first count.  He says if it was not for the irregularities,  he would not have been eliminated and would have benefited from a voting pact on transfers that he had with another candidate.

Those alleged irregularities included members being recorded as present and voting when they were not present.

They also included members who were present and voted but did not have their votes recorded. Two members he never previously heard of had their names added for voting, he claims.

Opening his case today, Micheal O'Higgins SC said

the court would hear that FG headquarters was "not overly keen" that Mr Perry should be on the general election ticket.

"Certain persons in the executive council of FG did not want him on the ticket", Mr O'Higgins said.  This had a direct bearing on the outcome of the convention, he said.

Counsel also said among the irregularities were that

a sister of one candidate was seen placing a number of votes in a ballot box.

It appears to be common case personation of voters took place, he said.

The ballot box was left unattended for a period at a time when certain people were infirm and had to vote early and were afforded that opportunity but there will be evidence the ballot box was left unguarded in a room that was not locked.

A further irregularity was that the total number of ballots exceeded the number marked off the register and given voting cards.

These are irregularities known to Mr Perry's side. 

But it is common case there were seven known irregular votes and his side claim these and other irregularities contravene the implied and express terms of the party's constitution and of Mr Perry's Constitutional rights. 

Other claims are that two members of the Coolaney branch were recorded as having voted when they had not in fact attended the convention.

Another member, of the Sooey branch, who was recorded as having voted had told Mr Perry he was in fact attending a GAA conference at Croke Park and was not present, it is claimed.

Two other members, of the Kilmacranny branch, had told him they had voted at the convention but were not recorded as having done so, he claims.

Mr Perry alleges the party refused to take appropriate action because he had not made a complaint on the night to the returning officer.

The case, which is due to last three days, continues before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News