'The Cope' rules himself out of contest
PAT 'the Cope' Gallagher has rejected persistent advances from senior Fianna Fail figures to return from his MEP role in Brussels to fight the by-election in Donegal South West.
Speaking from Brussels he revealed that, as late as yesterday morning and Wednesday night, he had received calls from senior party figures asking him to return to national politics, but he had declined.
Fianna Fail is to hold a selection convention in Glenties, Co Donegal, on Sunday evening to select its candidate to contest the election, which will take place in just three weeks' time.
Favourite at the moment is Senator Brian O Domhnaill (34), a Taoiseach nominee to the senate, but he is not without controversy.
He upset Fianna Fail in last year's local elections when he appeared to side with his brother, Seamus, who successfully ran as an independent candidate for Donegal County Council after not receiving the Fianna Fail nomination.
However last night, in a move that could cement Senator O Domhnaill's bid for the party nomination, Seamus confirmed that he had joined Fianna Fail.
In the sprawling constituency, shared with Education Minister Mary Coughlan, geography will play a huge role.
By yesterday evening, four candidates from its far corners had thrown their hat in the ring.
They were: Gweedore-based Senator Pearse Doherty (SF); Ballyshannon-based Barry O'Neill (FG); Raphoe-based Labour party councillor Frank McBrearty; and in the south west, former Sinn Fein Councillor, Thomas Pringle, declared his intention yesterday to contest the seat as an independent candidate.