Sunday 21 January 2018

Labour row erupts over EU candidate

Labour Senator John Gilroy .
Labour Senator John Gilroy .

DANIEL McCONNELL, Political Correspondent

A MAJOR row has erupted in the Labour Party over who will represent it in the European elections next summer in Ireland South.

Labour Senator John Gilroy has said senior party figures want him to replace MEP Phil Prendergast on the ticket.

Mr Gilroy said it is his view there should only be one nominee in the Ireland South constituency, which would mean deposing the party's incumbent MEP, Phil Prendergast.

The party has confirmed its nominee will be selected at a convention in the next three weeks.

Mr Gilroy, Labour's finance spokesman in the Seanad, says he intends standing for selection at next month's convention after he was approached by senior party figures who encouraged him to seek the nomination.

"I can confirm I am seeking the nomination, having been asked by senior people in the party to consider it. I am interested," he told the Sunday Independent.

Ms Prendergast said she was not aware of Mr Gilroy's intention to stand, and insisted she wants to run herself.

"Yes, I am hoping to go again. That is a surprise to me because he had told me previously he wasn't interested. I hadn't heard that," she said.

Ms Prendergast was appointed to the European Parliament in 2011 to replace Alan Kelly, who was elected to the Dail in the constituency of Tipperary North.

The attraction for the party of Mr Gilroy's bid is that he is based in Cork, where the party's support is strong, and would provide a strong basis for any challenge.

The Sunday Independent understands that Mr Gilroy's bid is not being discouraged by the party.

Mr Gilroy earlier this year published a critically acclaimed novel -- A Cry in the Morning, The Global Search for Sanotic Koniste -- and is a psychiatric nurse by profession.

Based in Glanmire, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the 2011 General Election in Cork North Central, receiving 6,125 first-preference votes. Eliminated on the 10th count, his transfers helped to elect Kathleen Lynch.

However, not all in the party are eager to see Mr Gilroy's entry into the race.

Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy said Ms Prendergast has "performed well since becoming an MEP and has built her profile steadily". "She has the distinct advantage over a low-profile senator," he added.

A spokesman for the party said no decision on the selection or even how many candidates will run has yet been made. The spokesman said Mr Gilroy approached party advisers to inform them of his decision to stand last week.

Irish Independent

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