FG’s John Perry loses out in Sligo selection convention

FG candidate says he understands why Perry would find it difficult to accept the result

Former Fine Gael TD John Perry with Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Mr Perry  lost out at the selection convention for Sligo-North Leitrim in a close contest over weekend. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Former Fine Gael TD John Perry with Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Mr Perry lost out at the selection convention for Sligo-North Leitrim in a close contest over weekend. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

A former Fine Gael TD seeking to return to the Dáil in the constituency where party deputy John Perry lost a selection convention said he can understand why the former junior minister is disappointed not to be contesting the election.

Mr Perry lost out at the selection convention for Sligo-North Leitrim in a close contest over weekend. Senior party sources say he is unlikely to be added to the ticket.

The Fine Gael executive council issued a directive that two candidates should be selected, one from Sligo and one from Leitrim.

Mr Perry, a TD since 1997, and Tony McLoughlin, both Sligo-based, and former deputy Gerry Reynolds, who is based in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, contested the convention.

The result saw Mr Reynolds and Mr McLoughlin selected.

Mr Reynolds, who lost his Dáil seat in 2002, said he understood Mr Perry’s disappointment. But he said it made sense to have a geographically balanced ticket.

Obvious choice

Cavan

The four-seat constituency has been redrawn and now takes in areas of south Donegal and west Cavan. Mr Reynolds said running two Sligo candidates would have “handed a seat to Sinn Féin”.

“I completely understand why John Perry would find it difficult to accept the result. It is a more difficult thing to be beaten within an organisation, not to come through a convention, rather than lose at a general election.”

Mr Perry, who did not return requests for comment, had said Fine Gael set a precedent for adding outgoing TDs to tickets if they lost at convention, citing Richard Bruton in Dublin Bay North.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the party hierarchy would “reflect” before deciding whether it should add Mr Perry, but senior party sources said it was unlikely.

Perry tweet

In a spirited address before the vote at the convention, Mr Perry claimed he had been “hung out to dry” by former minister for health James Reilly over the issue of mammography services at Sligo General Hospital.

About 1,000 people attended the convention and just under 700 party members voted.

Mr Reynolds topped the poll with 228 first-preference votes. Leitrim-based Senator Michael Comiskey was second on 188, then Mr McLoughlin on 140, and Mr Perry trailing in on 130.

A former chairman of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, Mr Perry lost his position as minister of state for small business in a reshuffle in July 2014.

While expected to face an uphill battle, Mr Perry received a warm reception from delegates.

He was cheered when he rebuffed attempts from the chairman, Galway West TD Sean Kyne, to cut short his speech, which was almost three times longer than the allotted five minutes.

“I am 18 years in office and I am finishing,” he said.