Wednesday 21 August 2019

Fine Gael drops senator Ray Butler from Dáil ticket and chooses Frank Feighan to run over John Perry in general election

Fine Gael's Frank Feighan. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael's Frank Feighan. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler
Former minister John Perry. Photo: Mark Condren
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Former junior minister John Perry has failed to get his name added to the Fine Gael ticket to fight in the next general election.

Mr Perry, who fought a high-profile battle against the party in the High Court in 2015 to contest the 2016 election, lost out to former TD and sitting Senator Frank Feighan who will now run in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency.

Mr Perry had lobbied strongly to contest the next general election and had claimed private polling showed him in a strong position to win a seat.

However the party opted for Mr Feighan, whose home town of Boyle was moved into the Sligo-Leitrim constituency in the most recent redrawing of boundaries.

Meanwhile, Senator Ray Butler has been dropped from the ticket in Meath West. Cork North-Central candidate Julie O’Leary was also dropped after she failed to get elected to the local council in May.

READ MORE: Senator finally repays €30,000 golden handshake, three years on

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Fine Gael national executive last night.

Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler

Mr Feighan's addition to the ticket in Sligo-Leitrim follows the decision of former TD Gerry Reynolds to drop his plan to run for the Dáil in order to focus on his business interests.

READ MORE: 'Put me on ticket or lose power at general election', ex-minister tells Fine Gael chiefs

Ms O’Leary earlier confirmed she will not be contesting the general election. “Following some discussions following the local elections, I have decided that I will not run in the next General Election, whenever that might be,” she said.

“I am delighted that in a number of weeks I will be taking up a new role as legal service manager with Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, an NGO in Cork.”

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Former minister John Perry. Photo: Mark Condren

Ms O’Leary’s departure from the party ticket in Cork North-Central follows a meeting last month with the party’s general secretary Tom Curran and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who is spearheading Fine Gael’s election plans.

Fine Gael sources had previously told that they expected Ms O’Leary to be dropped after she failed to win a seat on Cork City Council in last month’s local elections.

Fine Gael is already running senator Colm Burke in Cork North-Central and he said he wants to run in the upcoming by-election, which must be held by early next year at the latest.

Ms O’Leary said she would remain an active member of Fine Gael and would continue to support local causes in Cork including campaigns for high-rise buildings and high-density housing.

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