Foley fails to win Kerry North nomination

 

At a Fianna Fail selection convention in Kerry North on Saturday, Ms Norma Foley, a councillor and daughter of the sitting TD, Mr Denis Foley, failed to secure one of two nominations as a general election candidate.

Ms Foley (32), a former chairwoman of Tralee UDC, enjoyed a high profile and was widely tipped to secure a place, but her tally of 55 votes put her well behind the Foleys' political rivals, the McEllistrims.

Mr Thomas McEllistrim, from the Tralee area, headed the poll with 82 votes. Senator Dan Kiely, whose base is in the north of the constituency, secured 73 of the convention's 210 votes and secured a nomination. There were six contenders, including councillors Mr John Brassil and Mr Ted Fitzgerald. Mr Ned O'Sullivan withdrew his nomination.

The result was welcomed as it ensures the party has a candidate at either end of the constituency. Kerry North is regarded as a constituency in which the Sinn Fein candidate, Mr Martin Ferris, is almost certain to take a seat and in which Fianna Fail, because of divisions, is vulnerable.

There was a pointed lack of reference to Sinn Fein by speakers on Saturday evening, but the convention chairman, the Minister for Justice, Mr O'Donoghue, made a rousing speech, appealing to the party's republican side in "this historic constituency" which he said had seen more of the strife, more of the endurance than almost any other in the fight for independence.

"I want you now, not only for Bertie Ahern's sake, but for the sake of the memory and integrity of your forefathers, to ensure that here in North Kerry Fianna Fail wins at least one seat," Mr O'Donoghue said.

Senator Kiely (57), a member of the health board and a county councillor, is regarded as a hardworking politician with a solid base. In three previous attempts at the Dail he secured a high number of first-preference votes but lost in the Tralee area in what it was widely expected would be his last attempt at the Dail.

"The phoenix came back from the ashes. They thought Kiely would never come back," the delighted Tarbert man said after his selection.

Mr Thomas McEllistrim (32) is the third generation of his family to enter politics. A teacher and a member of Kerry County Council, he works as a full-time politician.

All candidates signed a pre-selection pledge declaring that they were tax-compliant and would not stand as independents.

The first-count results were: McEllistrim 65, Kiely 60, Foley 44, Brassil 31, Fitzgerald 10.