Decision presents Carroll a 'massive opportunity'
FIANNA Fail's youngest member of the Seanad, Drogheda Senator James Carroll said he was 'rocked back on his heels' with the news that party colleague Dermot Ahern was quitting politics after 32 years.
'I am incredibly shocked, and really didn't see it coming,' said Senator Carroll, who is tipped for the party's nomination for south Louth in the forthcoming General Election.
'We were supposed to have a county meeting on Monday night, that was cancelled due to the bad weather, and he was due to tell us then, but I am completely stunned by the news.'
The young contender recalled the Minister thinking he had lost his seat back in 1989, and had his resignation letter ready to hand in.
'He held on by four votes in a battle with Jimmy Mulroy, and only told us that at a retirement event last year for Jimmy,' he said.
'From the party's perspective, the Minister is a sure seat, and the party planners will have lots of discussions ahead of them now.'
Admitting that this is a 'massive opportunity' for him, Senator Carroll would not be drawn on who else could contest the seat.'
'Seamus Kirk will be returned, and we will hope to get two out of four, but I don't know who else will be in the contest,' he said.
'I'm sure there will be lots of interested parties, and after being in power for 13 years, Fianna Fail needs to be refreshed and bring in new blood.'
From the Monasterboice man's point of view, if a General Election is called immediately, he said 'bring it on'.
Fianna Fail TD for East Meath Thomas Byrne said he was very disappointed at the announcement.
'The Minister was a heavy hitter in the party, and a very hard working member of the party,' he said.
'We will need a strong candidate for Dundalk now, and I know a number of people have expressed an interest.'