Toireasa's shock u-turn over candidacy: 'I had to make decision'

Sinn Féin County Councillor Toireasa Ferris
Sinn Féin County Councillor Toireasa Ferris

Dónal Nolan & Sinead Kelleher

One of Sinn Féin's biggest vote-getters in the country left party and political colleagues in shock when she announced her decision to withdraw as a candidate from the next general election.

SF County Councillor Toireasa Ferris said she was left with no choice but to withdraw her candidacy due to 'health concerns'.

Speaking to The Kerryman on Tuesday, Cllr Ferris said she was 'gutted' at not being able to stand for her father's seat on his retirement. But her hand was forced by recent medical advice over health concerns, she said.

"Last night was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It's so easy to go into a room for selection at party level or before the electorate compared to what I had to do last night. There were people in that room whose whole lives have been dedicated to the republican struggle and campaign and to tell them I'm not in a position to contest the election was gutting."

She moved to reassure people her health concerns are not 'serious' but said that it is feared they could become embedded under the stressful burden of Dáil seat.

"To anyone who feels let down by this decision I'm truly sorry but, for once, I have to put my children first who need their mom in full health," Cllr Ferris added.  

Cllr Ferris's father, Kerry SF TD Martin Ferris (67), will likely come under increasing pressure to postpone his retirement from politics and protect a seat that is widely seen as one that can only be secured by a Ferris.

However, Cllr Ferris said she hopes that he would not be 'compelled' to go again and that the party would instead look to what she described as a strong pool of local talent. She said the prospect of her father having to stay did make the decision even more difficult, however. 

"There shouldn't be any reason why my father should be compelled to change his mind because we have a great team, with great local councillors all with a proven work rate.

"Despite national trends Sinn Féin is in a strong position still in Kerry."

She has not ruled out a future run at the Dáil, but said she is not committing to it either at this point.