Friday 23 February 2018

Hayes leaves door open for return to domestic politics

Brian Hayes at the announcement of his candidacy.
Brian Hayes at the announcement of his candidacy.

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

JUNIOR Finance Minister Brian Hayes has left the door open for a return to domestic politics at the next general election.

Mr Hayes is widely expected to top the poll in the Dublin constituency during May's European elections after being formally unveiled as the Fine Gael candidate.

His election to the European Parliament will prompt a by-election in the Dublin South West constituency, as well as ruling Mr Hayes out of a possible promotion during the imminent cabinet reshuffle.

However, Mr Hayes yesterday hinted that he may make a return to the Dail at the next general election, expected to take place in 2016.

Asked whether he will serve the full five-year term in the European Parliament Mr Hayes replied: "My intention is to serve the five years. I don't see a scenario where I will be standing in the next election, but who knows. Who knows what's going to happen in the future".

Fine Gael sources last night said Mr Hayes will head to Europe with the "clear view" about making a return to the domestic fold in the future.

Despite being involved in the infamous 2010 heave against leader Enda Kenny, party figures believe his willingness to defend the seat will go in his favour in the future.

"Brian's taking one for the team and he will be rewarded for that. It might be a while down the line but Brian has a bright future and he knows that," one minister told the Irish Independent.

Mr Hayes said he spoke directly to Mr Kenny about his decision and insists he has the full backing of the Taoiseach.

"I've spoken to the Taoiseach. He fully agrees with my decision. It is my decision," he added.

Mr Hayes said he feels a "responsibility" to run for the seat, which has been held by Gay Mitchell for 10 years. He said he will continue to serve as junior finance minister until the election but that he will not draw a salary for the duration of the campaign.

Pressed on whether he regrets his role in the heave against Mr Kenny, the Dublin South West TD said he has learned from the experience.

"What I've always tried to do is to learn from that experience. Whether it was a mistake or not, it is an experience we've had to live with."

He added: "Enda Kenny has been absolutely fair, upfront and honest with me in all of this and I appreciate that.

"I appreciate his support. He's been very good to me in difficult times and he brought this party together, we're stronger as a result of it."

Mr Hayes is widely expected to top the poll in the elections, which are scheduled to take place on May 23. Although the official selection convention has yet to take place, Fine Gael is unlikely to field a second candidate in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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