Fine Gael urges Ross to contest election


FINE GAEL has been attempting to persuade Independent Senator Shane Ross to contest this year’s general election for the party in a south Dublin constituency.

Dublin South, where the party wants to run three candidates, is one of the constituencies under consideration. Fine Gael’s two sitting TDs in Dublin South, Olivia Mitchell and Alan Shatter, have been selected in the five-seater.

Former Fine Gael TD George Lee resigned the seat he won in the Dublin South byelection brought about by the death of former Fianna Fáil minister Séamus Brennan.

Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan holds a seat in the constituency, while Fianna Fáil deputy Tom Kitt is stepping down.

Some consideration has also been given to Dún Laoghaire, where sitting deputy Seán Barrett and Cllr Mary Mitchell-O’Connor have been selected for Fine Gael. Mr Ross, who was formerly a member of Fine Gael and has been a Senator since 1981, could not be contacted last night.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has called for the abolition of the Seanad. Fine Gael’s election campaign slogan is expected to be: “Let’s get Ireland working.”

Separately, two Fianna Fáil councillors have said they will contest the election as Independents.

In Kerry South, Tom Fleming has announced he is to leave Fianna Fáil and put his name forward as an Independent, after sitting TD John O’Donoghue was chosen as the party’s sole candidate at the selection convention on Sunday. Although he failed to take a seat in the 2007 election, Mr Fleming secured the second-highest number of first preference votes in the constituency.

In Longford-Westmeath, Kevin “Boxer” Moran has also said he is to run as an Independent. Fianna Fáil is running three candidates in the constituency: sitting TDs Mary O’Rourke and Peter Kelly, as well as Cllr Robert Troy.

Meanwhile, the son of former president Patrick Hillery will put himself forward for Fianna Fáil in Clare when the party holds its convention in Ennis this weekend. Dr John Hillery, a former president of the Irish Medical Council, is based in Dublin but has always retained strong ties with his native county.

Fianna Fáil will meet this weekend to decide who should fight to retain the party’s two seats in Clare, where Minister for Defence Tony Killeen (58) has decided not run.