Labour unlikely to stand Longford by-election candidate

McFadden could benefit from increased Government vote

 Willie Penrose: “It is looking unlikely” that Labour will run a candidate in the Longford by-election. File photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Willie Penrose: “It is looking unlikely” that Labour will run a candidate in the Longford by-election. File photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

Labour is now unlikely to run a candidate in the Longford-Westmeath by-election, a local party TD has said.

Willie Penrose said Labour had hoped Conal Ennis, a party member from the constituency, would stand but he is unable to do so because of college exams.

If Labour does not run a candidate, the likely beneficiary is Fine Gael candidate Gabrielle McFadden, the sister of Nicky McFadden, the former TD whose death sparked the May 23rd by-election.

Government votes in the constituency - where Mr Penrose has a strong local presence - may now go towards Ms McFadden.

Nominations for the by-election close this Saturday and while Mr Penrose is not “100 per cent” certain Labour will be without a candidate, he said he is not confident of finding someone at this late stage.

“It is looking unlikely at this stage,” Mr Penrose said. “The timing is just bad. Usually one of the councillors would run, but they don’t want to be seen to be putting the Dáil ahead of the council.”

Fianna Fáil is standing Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, the son of former minister and constituency TD Mary O’Rourke, while Sinn Féin’s candidate is Athlone councillor Paul Hogan.

Labour faced a similar scenario in the Dublin West by-election, which is taking place on the same day. A number of local councillors decided against competing for the Dáil seat left open after the resignation of former deputy Patrick Nulty. Lorraine Mulligan, the Labour chairwoman and SIPTU official, was confirmed as the Dublin West candidate last week.