| 11°C Dublin

Fitzpatrick has change of heart on re-election bid after talks with FG


Peter Fitzpatrick outside the FG HQ in Dublin yesterday

Peter Fitzpatrick outside the FG HQ in Dublin yesterday

Mark Condren

Peter Fitzpatrick outside the FG HQ in Dublin yesterday

Fine Gael has persuaded backbench TD Peter Fitzpatrick to contest the general election just days after he announced his decision not to put his name forward for selection in the Louth constituency.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he had a change of heart following talks with senior party figures and after being inundated with support at a local level.

The news comes as Fianna Fáil attempts to persuade the sister of a prominent party senator to put her name forward.

Fianna Fáil is struggling to find candidates for the selection convention and has approached Mary Byrne, a successful lawyer and sister of Senator Thomas Byrne.

Meanwhile, Mr Fitzpatrick has spoken about his decision to re-enter the race just days after withdrawing.

He claimed that he felt pressurised by the party into declaring for the election before he had fully discussed his plans with his supporters and family.

Fine Gael last night said it took "full responsibility" for the events in recent days, adding that Mr Fitzpatrick felt "bounced" into making a decision too early.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Fitzpatrick said some of his supporters had contacted him to say they felt "betrayed" by his decision.

"This has been a difficult couple of few days," Mr Fitzpatrick said during the interview at the Fine Gael headquarters in Dublin.

"Basically, I wasn't clear on the party strategy for Louth and I felt like the convention was being rushed. So I pushed for the convention date to be changed until September. When that didn't happen, I was still very unsure about the party strategy so I decided to withdraw," he added.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he had considered in recent weeks whether to leave politics and return to running his business.

The first-time Dáil deputy found the early part of the term difficult and admitted that he submitted very few parliamentary questions to ministers.

He said this was because he felt more comfortable contacting ministers directly to sort out issues.

"People will say, 'look at Fitzpatrick doing a U-turn'. I don't feel I've done a U-turn. I feel I've done myself justice.

"I wanted to wait and make the right decision for myself, for my constituents and for my family. What really shocked me were the people who have contacted me over the last number of days," he said.

He added that he discussed his concern with a number of senior party figures, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes.

Mr Hayes last night said the party was "delighted" with Mr Fitzpatrick's decision.

"We take some responsibility in the way in which Peter may have felt being bounced into an early convention. The fault was ours in terms of communicating that to both Peter and Fergus [O'Dowd TD], who are both key people to us," he added.

Irish Independent