Wednesday 14 November 2018

Speculation mounts about third place on FF election ticket Tony Dempsey now being touted as candidate

THE race for the third spot on the Fianna Fail General Election ticket is hotting up with two more people confirming their interest.

Barrister Noel Whelan says he is giving serious consideration to becoming the third candidate.

Mr. Whelan, the son of Cllr. Seamus Whelan, of Ballycullane, said he had been approached both nationally and locally.

'I am giving it serious consideration, but there are number of personal and professional factors that I have to consider,' said the 32 year old, adding it was his declared ambition to be a TD for Wexford.

Mr. Whelan, who is married to Sinead McSweeney, a former special adviser to Bertie Aherne, ran in the 1997 election in the Dublin South constituency, polling 2,962 first preference votes. He was eliminated on the 7th count.

A party strategist, in the past he worked in various capacities as an FF official and adviser.

Mr. Whelan went to the Bar in 1997 and studied at Kings Inns for the four years prior to that. He is the author of three books, two on electoral politics and one on electoral law.

Fianna Fail views Wexford as a key marginal for a third seat, given the absence from the local political stage of long-standing heavyweights Ivan Yates, who is retiring from politics, and MEP Avril Doyle.

Meanwhile New Ross UDC Chairman Sean Connick confirmed on Tuesday that he was very interested in the vacancy on the FF ticket.

'I'mcertainly very interested. I haven't been asked or approached other than a lot of people on the ground here in Ross suggesting it to me.

'If given the opportunity and if asked I will run and give it 110%. I'm already doing work for New Ross and becoming a TD would mean doing this on a countywide basis.'

'I am of the right age and right profile for this.'

And the latest name to be mentioned in relation to the nomination is that of Wexford senior hurling team manager Tony Dempsey.

His attendance at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis at the weekend as re-kindled specualtion that he has been approached about the possibility of seeking the nomination.

Mr. Dempsey was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

While there is still no firm favourite to join John Browne and Hugh Byrne on the ticket, it is understood that party strategists are already looking at how to divide the constituency or the next election in an attempt to maximise the party chances of taking a third seat.

It is understood that Hugh Byrne will be getting a free run in the New Ross District and right across the south of the county up to the outskirts of Wexford town.

Strategists feel that the Minister's work in this area over the last number of years should ensure his re-election.

John Browne's area is a little bit more difficult to define as the identity of the third candidate, and whether or not it is Gorey's Malcolm Byrne who was the first hat into the ring for the nomination, will decide if he takes from Enniscorthy town right up to the northern border or the constituency or if he moves back down the county to make way for someone in the Gorey area.