Ex-IFA leader Bryan not to run for Fine Gael in the Euro elections

Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe ‘strongly considering’ putting his name forward

 John Bryan: Fine Gael was hoping to run Mr Bryan, a Kilkenny farmer, along with sitting MEP Seán Kelly from Kerry and Senator Deirdre Clune from Cork. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

John Bryan: Fine Gael was hoping to run Mr Bryan, a Kilkenny farmer, along with sitting MEP Seán Kelly from Kerry and Senator Deirdre Clune from Cork. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 01:00

STEPHEN COLLINS and FIACH KELLY


Former farmers’ leader John Bryan has decided not to run as a Fine Gael candidate in the European elections, while another Fine Gael minister is poised to announced his intention to become an MEP.

Mr Bryan had been lined up by the party to run in the new Ireland South constituency composed of Munster and four counties of south Leinster.

However, speaking to The Irish Times last night, Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe said he is now “strongly considering” putting his name forward for next weekend’s constituency selection convention.

It is understood the Wexford TD is waiting to see what other potential candidates emerge in the coming days.

Fine Gael was hoping to run Mr Bryan, a Kilkenny farmer who completed his term as president of the Irish Farmers’ Association last month, along with sitting MEP Seán Kelly from Kerry and Senator Deirdre Clune from Cork.

Mr Bryan told The Irish Times last night that after a great deal of thinking about the issue and talking to people across the constituency he had decided not to put his name forward for the nomination.

“I liked the prospect of going to Europe to represent the people of Ireland South, but after a lot of thinking I decided that there are too many obstacles in the way,” he said.

Mr Bryan said the first problem was that the four counties of south Leinster contained a minority of voters in the constituency who were attached to the much larger area of Munster. The expanded constituency now takes in Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow as well as Munster.

“The fact that Fine Gael want to run three candidates would have put me at a huge disadvantage. There is definitely a huge divide between Munster and Leinster and with two running mates in Munster I would have only had a relatively small part of the constituency in which to operate,” said Mr Bryan.

Mr Bryan also said that the huge financial cost of running for the European Parliament, with a cost of €250,000 between the party and the candidate, was something he had not appreciated until he looked into the matter in detail over the past few weeks. “This is a huge constituency stretching from Cahersiveen to Bray and from the gates of Galway to south Wexford. It would take a lot of posters to make your presence felt.”

Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes has already said he will seek the nomination in the Dublin constituency. If both Mr Hayes and Mr Kehoe were to become MEPs, it would then spark a double by-election in Wexford and Dublin South-West within six months of the European Parliament elections in June.