Saturday 21 April 2018

Fianna Fáil asks Lenihan to run for Dáil in Roscommon

Conor Lenihan
Conor Lenihan
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Fianna Fáil has approached former junior minister Conor Lenihan to make a return to politics for the upcoming general election and wants him to run as a candidate in his family's former stronghold of Roscommon.

The 52-year-old confirmed last night he has been approached by senior party members to put his name before the selection convention for the upcoming election in the newly formed constituency of Roscommon-Galway.

The brother of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told the Irish Independent last night that he is "flattered and honoured" to have been approached by Fianna Fáil to run in this constituency. Both his father Brian Snr, who served as Tánaiste, and uncle Patrick were both elected to the Dáil in Roscommon.

Mr Lenihan announced earlier this month that he would return to politics if approached. And, last night he admitted he has been in discussions with the party for several weeks.

"In the past few weeks, a number of senior members of the Roscommon organisation have approached me with a view to me running in the constituency," Mr Lenihan said.

"I emphasise that I am not pushing myself on the constituency. It is a matter for them to decide who will be best to win a seat in Roscommon. And there are many other candidates they can chose from.

"I am flattered and honoured that they have taken the step to approach me," he added.

Mr Lenihan, who was first elected to Leinster House in 1997, lost his seat in Dublin South-West in 2011. During his political career, he became the first Minister for Integration.

He has since moved on to work with eastern European energy firms.

A source said he was approached due to his "relatively high profile" and "footprint in the constituency".

It is believed that Fianna Fáil is hoping the Lenihan name will guarantee it a win in the three-seat constituency.

A spokesperson for the party said they would not comment ahead of the official closing date for nominations. However, it is understood that the news - which has been circulating amongst locals in recent days - has not been met positively.

Although one party source said "it is an awful slur on the people there" that Fianna Fáil is trying to "bring people in".

So far Roscommon county councillors Eugene Murphy and Paschal Fitzmaurice are the only two contenders who have officially declared they will seek the nomination.

Former Justice Minister Mary O’Rourke, aunt of Conor, said her nephew had discussed the issue with him.

“I said it is very  fraught Conor. We went through the participants in the by-election,” she said.

“As of now there is no Fianna Fail seat, bit I did say to him, it is very remarkable if there wasn’t a Fianna Fail (FF) candidate in Roscommon,” she said.

She indicated that a Fianna Fail seat is not a certainty in the constituency but added that he has toured the area ahead of a possible election bid.

“It is a big risk against the non likelihood of a FF seat,” Ms O’Rourke admitted admitted.

“I sense they are in a quite a bit of despair in Roscommon. It is in a state of flux.”

Irish Independent

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