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Parlon mulls over a bid for Olwyn's seat

FORMER PD junior minister Tom Parlon has refused to rule himself out of a shock return to politics as a candidate for Olwyn Enright's Dail seat.

The farmer was previously approached by Fine Gael about running for the party in 2002 before he opted for the Progressive Democrats.

With the party now seeking a high-profile candidate for the Laois/Offaly constituency, locals are speculating that Mr Parlon might re-enter politics.

And Parlon -- currently head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) -- said he will "think about it".



Reaction

Speaking from Nashville, where he was on holiday, Mr Parlon quoted Jerry Lee Lewis -- when asked for a reaction to Ms Enright's resignation, he said "Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!"

Earlier this week the pregnant mum-of-one announced that she would be stepping back from politics at the next election in order to spend more time with her family.

Her decision has created a major hole for Fine Gael who would have been targeting Taoiseach Brian Cowen's constituency for an extra seat.

The party currently has two TDs in the area but now needs to select candidates to run alongside their children spokesperson Charlie Flanagan.

Mr Parlon, who is a former head of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), took Mr Flanagan's seat in the 2002.

He served as a Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works under Bertie Ahern and Mary Harney, but lost out to Mr Flanagan in the 2007 election.

Fine Gael had courted Mr Parlon in 2002 before Mary Harney managed to convince him to run for the PDs.

The party is already rumoured to have had casual talks with ex-PD leader Michael McDowell about a run.

Asked about Ms Enright's decision, Mr Parlon said: "Her news came as quite a shock."

But he refused to rule himself out of seeking the seat. He told the Offaly Express that he hadn't had much time to digest the news but added: "I will have to think about it when I get back."



Legend

If he does try to get back in the electoral ring, he could face tough competition from Offaly hurling legend Brian Whelahan.

Mr Whelahan, considered a local hero for his endeavours on the hurling field during the 1990s and early 2000s, performed badly in the local elections. However, local sources say that the publican's high-profile across the county could help him secure a Dail seat.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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