Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted he is "very happy" with the three-party strategy in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency, where outgoing TD John Perry was added to the ticket after launching a court challenge.
Mr Kenny conceded that there had been “a major vigorous discussion down here in Sligo”, but he said it was not unusual for candidates to be added to the ticket after a convention.
Asked whether Mr Perry had put a gun to his head when he launched a High Court challenge after failing to be selected at convention, the Taoiseach said the matter was now closed.
He denied that he was annoyed to have three candidates in the field when just two – outgoing Sligo-based TD Tony McLoughlin and Leitrim-based Gerry Reynolds – were selected at the convention.
"We have got three competitive candidates here and we expect to hold onto two seats in Sligo-Leitrim, west Cavan and south Donegal, " he told Ocean FM while on a visit to Sligo on Wednesday.
“In any constituency it is a battlefield and it is a challenge,” Mr Kenny added. Even where candidates were “the best of friends all along”, tensions could break out during campaigns, said the Taoiseach
Mr Kenny bumped into Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams as he left the Ocean FM studios. Shaking hands with Mr Adams and local Sinn Féin candidate Chris MacManus he told them they were "up against a formidable Fine Gael team in Sligo".
The Taoiseach said Irish Water was “here to stay” and he said any change to the water charges regime was not on the agenda.
He defended his stance on the controversial removal of cancer services from Sligo University Hospital when reminded of his commitment before the 2011 election that Fine Gael would review the issue in government. Mr Kenny said that tenders for the return of mammography services had been issued. Pressed on whether the breast cancer service should be restored, he said: “We start where we can start and obviously the tender issue in respect of mammography is important.”
Speaking in Sligo about his party's response to the recent shootings in Dublin, Mr Adams said he was one of the few people in the Oireachtas who had been shot and whose home had been bombed. He said his party would not take lectures "from people who cut Garda numbers".