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Cox must wait to join the club

FORMER Fianna Fail candidate, PD TD and Independent MEP Pat Cox yesterday applied to join Fine Gael -- but he'll have to wait for another week to be admitted.

Mr Cox intends to seek the Fine Gael nomination for the presidential election once he becomes a member of the party, as revealed in the Irish Independent at the weekend.

But he will have to beat Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness and possibly fellow MEP Gay Mitchell, who is weighing up a run, to win the place on the ticket.

Regarding the prospects of Independent senator David Norris, when asked if he thought Irish voters would endorse a gay president, Mr Mitchell replied yesterday: "Je suis Gay."

Mr Cox, the former European Parliament president formally applied to be a member of the St Luke's branch of Fine Gael -- the same branch as newly elected TD Darragh Murphy.


"I am informed that having stood as a candidate for Dail Eireann and the European Parliament 'other than as a Fine Gael candidate' requires that the question of party membership 'shall not be considered without the approval in writing of the Executive Council'," he said.

Mr Cox has written to Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran requesting written approval to join.

Mr Mitchell has said his party has a fighting chance at the Aras when elections are held later this year. "We have never had a Fine Gael president -- this is a real opportunity for us to have one now," he said.

Mr Cox is the latest name to be thrown into the pot, with reports that he is to be enlisted by the party before its July convention.

"You have to be a member of Fine Gael and that's entirely a matter for Pat Cox," Mr Mitchell said when questioned on the rumours.

"I think Fine Gael should pick the best candidate as they judge."

He is to make a final decision later this week after "taking counsel and considering and looking at the pros and cons", he told this newspaper.

If he does run he will be up against party colleague and Ms McGuinness.

Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly withdrew his name last week, saying that he wanted to concentrate on his work in the European Parliament.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers yesterday said there was "a lot of delaying with the choosing of candidates in Fine Gael".

"I would think the situation needs to be resolved sooner rather than later," she said.

Irish Independent