Tuesday 22 October 2019

FG's Conlan will still run in general election despite recent arrest

Seán Conlan at the Fine Gael convention in the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan last night. Photo: Arthur Carron
Seán Conlan at the Fine Gael convention in the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan last night. Photo: Arthur Carron

Adam Cullen and Philip Ryan

Fine Gael will run a controversial Monaghan TD in the next general election, despite him having been arrested less than a week ago for his alleged involvement in a bar room brawl.

Seán Conlan was selected alongside Arts Minster Heather Humphreys and Cavan TD Joe O'Reilly last night, despite the possibility of pending assault charges.

Direction was given to select the three after no other candidates were selected. No vote was held at the event.

Mr Conlan refused to speak to the Irish Independent and no mention was made by him or party officials in relation to an alleged assault at his family pub two weeks ago. No charges have been brought in connection with the incident.

Addressing the crowd, he said Fine Gael needed a young candidate in the constituency to stave off stiff "competition from Sinn Féin" in what is to be a fiercely fought election after the loss of a seat in the region.

His comments were met by a round of applause from the 300-strong crowd, who he later thanked for their "support in recent weeks".

Speaking to Northern Sound radio earlier, Mr Conlan refused to comment when asked several times if he had confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"The question is not relevant because Enda Kenny will be the leader of the party," Mr Conlan said.

He added: "He is the leader of our party and I support our leader. Until they change our leadership, I will be supporting the leader."

Ms Humpreys last night offered her full and resounding support to the Taoiseach, whom she praised as being the "saviour of the party".

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has refused to comment on a damning opinion poll, which found that more than half of those asked did not believe his version of the events that led to the shock resignation of the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

A survey carried out by research firm Amarách on behalf of the 'Claire Byrne Live' show on RTÉ One found that 55pc of people did not believe the evidence Mr Kenny gave to the Fennelly Commission. The poll of more than 1,000 people found that little more than one in 10 believed the Taoiseach.

Asked twice yesterday by the Irish Independent if he was concerned that the public did not believe him, Mr Kenny refused to answer.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton defended the Taoiseach in the face of the poll results.

"We appointed a Supreme Court judge to deal with this issue and the Supreme Court judge has drawn his conclusions and those are the conclusions that matter and they have found that the Taoiseach acted properly in this issue," he said.

Mr Kenny insisted that he still had confidence in Department of An Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser, despite Mr Fraser directly contradicting Mr Kenny's evidence to the Fennelly Commission.

Irish Independent

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