Independent councillor in Cork South West declares for Fianna Fáil


An independent councillor is to stand for Fianna Fáil in Cork South West, in what is being seen as a considerable boost to the party's chances of retaining its two seats in the constituency.

Councillor Christy O'Sullivan had been considering standing for the Rural Alliance, which has gained considerable support in the constituency for its platform protesting about current policies towards the fishing and farming industries. However, Fianna Fáil's national constituencies committee said yesterday that Mr O'Sullivan would be added to the Fianna Fáil ticket.

There will be no selection convention in the constituency, where Fianna Fáil has been facing the strong likelihood of losing one of its seats. Former minister for agriculture Joe Walsh is retiring and there had been no candidate from within the party that headquarters believed capable of taking a seat alongside sitting Fianna Fáil TD Denis O'Donovan.

Mr O'Sullivan stood as an independent in the 2002 general election and polled just under 10 per cent of the vote. His addition to the ticket will pose a considerable challenge for Fine Gael, which is attempting to retake a second seat in Cork South West which it lost in 2002.

That was the first election since 1973 that Fine Gael failed to return two TDs there.

Meanwhile, Progressive Democrats candidate in Wexford Colm O'Gorman has called for the upgrading of Waterford Institute of Technology to university status.

At the launch of a billboard campaign for his election bid, Mr O'Gorman said he believed such a move was vital for addressing the needs in the constituency.

"Co Wexford has one of the lowest levels of uptake of third-level education in Ireland," he said. "I believe that the absence of a university in the region is a significant impediment to the economic and social development of Wexford." Such a development would attract investment, generate jobs and facilitate sustainable development of the area.

The Green Party is confident of winning a Dáil seat in Carlow-Kilkenny, according to party chairman John Gormley. He was in the constituency yesterday to launch the campaign of the Greens' deputy leader Mary White, a member of Carlow County Council, who will contest her third general election as the party's sole candidate.

There had been speculation that Malcolm Noonan, the party's only councillor in Kilkenny, would also run, but Mr Gormley said the party had decided against running a second candidate in the two-county constituency for fear of "dissipating the vote".

About two-thirds of the electorate live in Co Kilkenny. In the 2002 election, Ms White polled just over 8 per cent of first preference votes but failed to win a seat.

The five-seat constituency is currently represented by three Fianna Fáil deputies with one each for Fine Gael and Labour.

Ms White will campaign to develop an ethanol factory in Carlow to replace the sugar factory which was closed by Greencore.

She also pledged to ensure that Carlow becomes "the first energy-efficient town in Ireland", producing its own electricity from biofuels and biomass which would "support inward investment" and provide the "troubled agricultural sector" with "new opportunities to develop fuel and energy crops to boost farm incomes".