Fianna Fail declares first candidate for Roscommon-South Leitrim by election

Three female councillors, who were tipped to seek the Fianna Fail nomination, rule themselves out

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 23:21

The first candidate in the Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election has been declared,with Fianna Fáíl’s selection of Ivan Connaughton at a selection convention tonight.

Mr Connaughton (31), an auctioneer by profession based in Athleague, is a newly-elected councillor for Roscommon who polled over 4,000 first preference votes in the 2011 general election.

He was one of just two candidates to run, securing 298 votes against 155 votes for his rival, Cllr Eugene Murphy, from Strokestown.

Cllr Murphy, who presents a weekly show on Shannonside/Northern Sound Radio, has been a councillor for 28 years.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin addresssed the convention in the Abbey Hotel, which was chaired by the party’s direction of elections, Mayo TD Dara Calleary.

Three female councillors who had been tipped to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination ruled themselves out of the contest in recent weeks.

Fianna Fáil confirmed that Leitrim councillor Sinéad Guckian had withdrawn her name, while party colleagues Rachel Doherty, daughter of the late Fianna Fáil justice minister Séan Doherty, and Orla Leyden, daughter of Fianna Fáil senator Terry Leyden, also said they would not be putting their names forward.

Cllr Guckian would have faced stiff competition, given that some two-thirds of party members expected to vote are from Roscommon, and her base is Leitrim. Constituency boundaries are also due to be changed in 18 months’ time.

No date has as yet been set for the Roscommon South Leitrim by-election, which is due to be held as a result of Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan’s election as an MEP.

Sitting TDs are Frank Feighan of Fine Gael and Independent Denis Naughten, who broke ranks with Fine Gael in a row over facilities at Roscommon hospital. Fine Gael took 38.53 per cent of the first preference vote in the last general election.