Saturday 24 February 2018

Fine Gael official denies 'sinister corruption' at selection convention

Sligo TD John Perry. Photo: Courtpix
Sligo TD John Perry. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

A Fine Gael officer has denied there was any "sinister corrupting" of the democratic process in relation to the party's selection convention for Sligo-Leitrim.

Darragh Kelly, regional organiser and returning officer on the night of the convention, was under cross-examination on the fourth day of local TD John Perry's action against his party claiming the result of the convention, at which he failed to win a nomination, should be set aside and a new one held.

He claims there were irregularities in the conduct of the convention in the Mayflower Ballroom in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, on October 16, when two candidates were selected for the Sligo-Leitrim constituency.

Mr Perry claims there should be three candidates and says he is entitled to stand in the next general election, given a commitment made by Enda Kenny last December that no sitting TD would be stopped from running.

During cross-examination by Micheál P O'Higgin SC, for Mr Perry, it was put to Mr Kelly that, as returning officer, he operated two, or multiple, registers in which voters at the convention were marked off.

Mr Kelly replied he was not running two registers and also said no registers were withheld from Mr Perry's side.

"Myself and my legal team complied with all requests (to disclose documents)," he said.

Asked why both versions of a certain statement had not been provided to the Perry side as part of the legal disclosure process, he said that was because one of them was a draft.

The first of those statements contained a reference that it was "suggested by (Fine Gael general secretary) Tom Curran to remove two votes", and Mr Kelly had said he would not do that "as a matter of conscience".

Mr Kelly said that "no corruption took place".

Earlier, Mr Kelly told FG counsel Seamus Woulfe, he accepted that there were irregularities in a small number of votes but they were the result of impersonation or due to genuine errors on the night.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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