Shatter narrowly wins a place on Fine Gael election ticket
Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter won the political fight of his career last night to secure a place on the Fine Gael ticket for the next general election, alongside local councillor Josepha Madigan.
In a close-fought selection convention, the TD who was first elected to the Dáil in 1982, fought off stiff competition from local councillor Neale Richmond, winning by 76 votes to 67. Ms. Madigan got 14 votes.
Despite Mr Richmond being tipped as the frontrunner, Mr Shatter said he had been "very optimistic, but I wasn't taking the result for granted".
The controversial TD has been rarely far from the headlines since the publication of the Fennelly Report.
"I tell it like it is, and sometimes that gets me into trouble," he said, speaking to the Irish Independent after the convention.
Mr Shatter added: "I think this will be my 11th general election, and I'm delighted Josepha and myself are running. I think it's a great ticket."
The TD was one of four Fine Gael members contesting the selection convention for the new Dublin-Rathdown constituency - and the battle intensified when party bosses issued a directive late yesterday instructing delegates to pick one female candidate and one male candidate, placing Cllr Madigan automatically on the ticket.Party activist John Kennedy had also put his name forward at the convention.
The boundary redraw has reduced the number of seats from five to three, and among the other candidates running in the constituency which was formerly Dublin South, are Labour Communications Minister Alex White and Independent Shane Ross.
It was standing-room only in the upstairs function-room of the Goat Grill in Goatstown during the convention battle. Two of the contestants were exuding an air of relaxation; Ms Madigan because of the earlier directive to select a female candidate (and she was it), and Mr Kennedy because he knew he didn't stand an earthly. But neither Alan Shatter or Neale Richmond was as relaxed. It was destined to be a close-run thing.
Around 200 were crammed into the room, including a trio of Mr Richmond's supporters who marched in straight from rugby training in Old Wesley; polite lads too, removing their muddy boots and standing in line to vote in their socks and kit. His wife Babs was absent, babysitting for delegates who otherwise wouldn't have made it. Meanwhile, there were some interested spectators in the vicinity of the Goat: both former Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews and his fellow Independent colleague Shane Ross were spotted in the bar.
During the series of pre-vote speeches, Mr Shatter took to the stage and threw some digs in his usual robust fashion. He told delegates that the Navy wouldn't be in the Med rescuing refugees if the decision hadn't been made to buy new naval vessels (during his watch in Defence, of course). Nor did he want to see "Gerry Adams as Taoiseach and minister for defence, Mick Wallace as justice minister and Shane Ross as minister for finance, getting advice from Syriza."