Friday 19 January 2018

Renua targets tally of 10 TDs and a government role

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton
John Downing

John Downing

Renua Ireland will have at least 10 TDs after the next election and be in the running for a role in the next government.

That is the view of the fledgling party's deputy leader, Wicklow TD Billy Timmons, who said his party completed all hurdles to formally register just last week. Mr Timmons said the party's volunteer members continue to complete the widest range of policy documents while prioritising their first electoral test, the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election on May 22 next.

"If a general election was called immediately we could produce policies across areas like the economy, education, environment, transport and all the issues which matter to voters," he said.

Mr Timmons is campaign director for the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election, bordering on his own base. He said there were ongoing efforts by both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to "marginalise" their candidate, the Kilkenny-based councillor, Patrick McKee.

Cllr McKee's recruitment on March 31 was deemed something of a local coup. The 24-year-old trainee solicitor was a rising star in Fianna Fáil and his name was linked with the by-election for his former party, though the nomination went to former TD, Bobby Aylward.

But both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have characterised the contest as being between them alone. The Fine Gael candidate is Cllr David Fitzgerald.

"But we have a young and very different candidate, well known in his native Kilkenny city, getting better known in County Kilkenny, and prepared to campaign hard in Carlow also. People will see he is a force to be reckoned with," Mr Timmons said.

The new party formally launched on March 13 last with just three TDs, all former members of Fine Gael who left that party because they disagreed with July 2013 legislation permitting a very limited form of abortion. The sitting trio are party leader, Lucinda Creighton, Mr Timmons and Dublin North East TD, Terrence Flanagan.

Mr Timmons said the current TDs were all standing again and hopeful that they will retain their seats, while contacts are continuing with prospective candidates in many of the 40 constituencies. He said the new party aimed to have a role in government which could arise if the outgoing coalition parties fall short of a majority.

"But we will drive a hard bargain based on policy," he said.

Leinster House sources said the most likely candidates to field include Cllr John Leahy, Offaly; Jonathan Irwin, Kildare South; and Cllr Ronan McMahon of Dublin South West. Cllr Patrick McKee of Carlow-Kilkenny is expected to return irrespective of the by-election outcome. Others cited include Waterford hotelier, Mailo Power and Wexford-based social policy expert Shane Dunphy.

Irish Independent

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