FG under pressure to change European election strategy

Party activists call for only two candidates in Ireland South

Senator Deirdre Clune is planning to run in Cork. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Senator Deirdre Clune is planning to run in Cork. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


Fine Gael is coming under growing pressure from within its own internal organisation to only run two candidates in the Ireland South constituency for the European elections.

A constituency meeting in Carlow-Kilkenny last night passed motions calling on the party headquarters to change its current strategy of running three candidates in the four seat constituency.

Former Irish Farmer’s Association president John Bryan pulled back from running for the party in the European elections because of the Fine Gael’s hierarchy insistence of running three candidates.

Sitting MEP Seán Kelly will run from his Kerry base, with Senator Deirdre Clune planning to run out of Cork. A third candidate would run from the south-east. Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul-Phelan, mentioned as a possible candidate, ruled himself out this morning.

A meeting of party activists in the Springhill Hotel in Kilkenny last night passed motions which will be sent to party headquarters calling for two candidates in Ireland South, one from the south-west of the sprawling constituency, which takes in Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow, as well as Munster, and another in the south-east.

There were also calls for the Ireland South selection convention, scheduled to take place on Sunday, to be postponed until after Fine Gael had changed strategy.

Carlow based Fine Gael TD Pat Deering was at the meeting, and he said there was huge disappointment that Mr Bryan had decided against running.

“There was a feeling our convention should be postponed until after Sunday and that there should only be two candidates,” Mr Deering said.

Mr Phelan was also at the meeting and said he would make his intentions known on local radio this morning. Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan, who is also a local TD, was not at the meeting.

Mr Bryan has been mentioned by senior Fine Gael figures as a possible by-election candidate in the constituency, should Mr Phelan become an MEP.