Tuesday 22 October 2019

FF's Byrne to seek Dáil by-election nomination in Wexford

Energetic: Malcolm Byrne (right) campaigned well in the European vote. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography.
Energetic: Malcolm Byrne (right) campaigned well in the European vote. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography.
John Downing

John Downing

Fianna Fáil councillor Malcolm Byrne has signalled he definitely wants a party nomination for an upcoming by-election in Wexford.

The by-election has been caused by Independent Mick Wallace's election to the European Parliament election. It is one of four by-elections likely to be held this autumn, most of which will pose tough choices and local tensions for the parties.

Mr Byrne, based in Gorey, made a big impression in the European Parliament election for the 12-county Ireland South constituency, which comprises the six Munster counties and six of the southern and midland counties of Leinster.

He ran an energetic and high-profile campaign which included some needle between himself and supporters of his Fianna Fáil running mate, Billy Kelleher, who won a seat.

Mr Byrne polled a total of 69,000 votes and was eliminated only on the 16th count. He also topped the poll to take a Wexford County Council seat in the Gorey council area.

But his intention to try for a nomination in the by-election will cause tensions in the Wexford area. Already, Wexford town-based Cllr Lisa McDonald has been chosen for the next general election to stand alongside the Enniscorthy-based sitting TD, James Browne.

But signs at Leinster House are the party leadership and management will review their Dáil candidate selections based on showings in last month's elections.

That would give Mr Byrne -who has never disguised his Dáil ambitions - a good chance of getting on the ticket.

The other by-elections are in Billy Kelleher's Cork North Central, in Dublin Fingal, where Clare Daly is to be replaced, and in Dublin Mid-West to replace Frances Fitzgerald.

It is as yet unclear whether the Taoiseach will go ahead with his stated intention of holding these four by-elections next November.

It looks extremely difficult for the party of government to win even one of them and facing into a general election months later with four losses would be difficult.

Irish Independent

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