Wednesday 25 April 2018

It's great news for Mr Perry - but very glum tidings for Mr Kenny

John Perry at the High Court yesterday
John Perry at the High Court yesterday
John Downing

John Downing

The end result of this one is that it could cost Fine Gael a rather precious Dáil seat.

The party had hoped to take two in the newly created four-seater known as Sligo-Leitrim, which takes in a chunk of west Cavan and south Donegal.

The strategy had been to run one candidate in the south and one in the north. The outcome of the contentious selection convention, in the Mayflower Ballroom in Drumshanbo on October 16, seemed clear - except, of course, for John Perry who lost the contest on the night.

The two candidates were to be outgoing Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin from Sligo town, representing the southern end, and former TD and Senator Gerry Reynolds from Carrick-on-Shannon, representing the northern end. It looked a perfectly balanced geographical ticket, offering a cracking chance of two out of four.

Mr Perry insisted he had not got fair play because the procedures were not correct. He also contended that the Taoiseach had pledged that all outgoing TDs would have the option of standing again - even if they did not win a selection convention.

Few people at Leinster House expected this one would end up in the High Court. Others relied on the clichéd view that the courts have a history of avoiding undue involvement in internal political machinations.

Well, anyone who thought such thoughts was surprised with the turn of events. On Monday, day four of five court days in all, the Fine Gael party blinked.

Party general secretary Tom Curran told the court Mr Perry could be added to the ticket after all. What had changed, you may well ask?

Well, Mr Curran said it was Fine Gael's rising opinion poll ratings. Settlement negotiations began and a resolution emerged after lunch yesterday. John Perry has been added and Fine Gael will run three.

Several unanswered questions remain. How will the bill, which could total €500,000, be paid? It is reasonable to guess that Fine Gael may pick up the larger share - if not all - of the cost.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach and party leader Enda Kenny must ask the party's national executive to add Mr Perry to the candidate slate.

The ongoing struggle between Fine Gael staff in headquarters and the elected ones continues.

Irish Independent

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