Sunday 25 August 2019

Perry claims 'serious irregularities' at FG selection

John Perry
John Perry

Tim Healy

Fine Gael TD John Perry has alleged "serious and substantial" irregularities at a party selection convention rendered its outcome "unlawful" and "fundamentally flawed".

Those alleged irregularities included members being recorded voting when not present, members who did not have votes recorded, and two members he never previously heard of having their names added.

The claims were made in an affidavit by Mr Perry to the High Court when his lawyers were given permission to serve short notice on Fine Gael of his application for injunctions over the conduct of the convention.

He has challenged the outcome of the October 16 convention, in which he was not selected to contest the general election for Fine Gael in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency.

Mr Perry claims two members of the Coolaney branch were recorded as having voted when they had not attended.

A member of the Sooey branch recorded as having voted said he was attending a GAA conference at Croke Park and was not present, Mr Perry claims. Two other members, of the Kilmacranny branch had told him they had voted but were not recorded as having done so, he claims.

His lawyers were told in a letter on November 9 that the Fine Gael general secretary "would have observed some unorthodoxy on the part of members and one of the candidates" but saw the convention as having proceeded "not without a glitch or two, but reasonably satisfactorily nonetheless", he said.

Mr Perry said it is unclear what candidate was alleged to have engaged in "unorthodox activity" but it was not him.

Fine Gael had also written on November 19 describing as a "concerning development" the issues he raised of two members who were recorded as having voted but who had not in fact voted, he said. It was "entirely inappropriate" to suggest the onus to resolve these serious issues lay on him, Mr Perry said.

That letter also accepted that more people had voted at the convention than were eligible to vote, he added.

The issues raised were "very serious", relating not just to his personal rights but also the democratic entitlements of the electorate. It is "essential" a fresh convention be reconvened, he said.

He alleges the outcome of the convention, which meant he was not being permitted run for the party which he had represented since 1997, was "fundamentally flawed".

Two candidates were selected by the October 16 convention, Deputy Tony McLaughlin and former TD Gerry Reynolds. The convention recorded that Mr Perry failed to be selected by a margin of 10 votes.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan granted liberty to serve short notice of the injunctions application. The case comes back on December 9.

Irish Independent

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