Fine Gael deselects Verona Murphy from Wexford election ticket
Haulage industry representative’s byelection campaign became embroiled in controversy
Verona Murphy will be officially removed from Fine Gael’s Wexford general election ticket on Wednesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
In a statement following a meeting of its executive council on Wednesday night, the party said it had “decided to deselect” Ms Murphy, who came third in a recent byelection in Wexford.
“Ministers Michael D’Arcy and Paul Kehoe are the selected candidates for the Wexford constituency,” the statement added.
Ahead of the meeting Fine Gael sources said a recommendation from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on removing Ms Murphy would go before the council. Ms Murphy later confirmed to The Irish Times that she would be deselected.
Tom Curran, the Fine Gael general secretary, was understood to be in Wexford on Tuesday as was Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Fine Gael’s director of organisation. Mr Donohoe was also in the constituency over the weekend.
Ms Murphy’s recent campaign in Wexford was embroiled in controversy over comments she made about asylum seekers. Mr Varadkar criticised a controversial campaign video released by Ms Murphy, which suggested she had been the victim of a media campaign, last weekend.
Ms Murphy made, and then withdrew and apologised for, comments about asylum seekers being linked to Islamic State and suggested they may need “de-programming”.
Asked why he had canvassed with Ms Murphy following these comments, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor that she had apologised and withdrawn them.
However, he added: “What was done subsequently in terms of the video she did which sort of tried to imply the whole thing was a media character assassination attempt on her – I had a big problem with that because maybe it suggested to me that the apology and retraction wasn’t fully sincere.”
He said Ms Murphy had been vetted prior to her selection as a candidate and would have had mock media interviews where questions on issues like direct provision would have been asked “and that wasn’t the answer given”.
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said on Wednesday that Ms Murphy’s deselection was “a pity in one way” as the party had built up a local campaign team.
“To change that so close to the election probably upsets people in the constituency.”
Ms Doherty added: “The one thing I am glad about is that it is above my pay grade to have to make those decisions.”