Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher to seek Fianna Fáil nomination

Former junior minister wants to contest a seat in new five-seat Donegal constituency

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher who plans to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination to run in the  new five seat Donegal constituency. Photograph: The Irish Times

Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher who plans to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination to run in the new five seat Donegal constituency. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Former minister of state Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher is to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination to contest the general election in Donegal.

Mr Gallagher, who lost his seat as an MEP for the North West constituency last year, confirmed his decision on Monday following months of speculation.

He announced his intention to seek a nomination in a letter sent to every registered Fianna Fáil member in the newly created five seat constituency.

Speaking later to Highland Radio, Mr Gallagher said: “I have been thinking about this for some time but it was only after the last week that I decided that I would contest the convention in a hope of being selected and fighting the next general election with a view to winning two seats for the party.”

Mr Gallagher (67) will contest the Fianna Fáil selection convention alongside Donegal councillor Pat Daid and sitting TD Charlie McConalogue.

A number of other candidates are expetced to enter the contest before the convention, which is to be held on October 4th.

Mr Gallagher’s former Donegal South West constituency will be merged with Donegal North East for the next election with the two former three seaters becoming a single five seat constituency.

Sinn Féin won a seat in both Donegal South West (Pearse Doherty) and Donegal North East (Pádraig MacLochlainn) in 2011. Both men are widely expected to be re-elected in the new constituency.

Independent Thomas Pringle and Fine Gael’s Dinny McGinley, who has announced he will retire at the end of this Dáil term, were also elected in Donegal South West in 2011. Mr McConalogue and Fine Gael’s Joe McHugh, now Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, were elected in Donegal North East.

Mr Gallagher, who previously served as minister of state in areas such as the marine and the gaeltacht, is seen as having a strong chance of taking a seat.

He was successful in his last run for the Dáil in 2007 but did not see out the full term after being selected to contest the 2009 European Elections for Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael is seeking a running mate for Mr McHugh and may put forward John McNulty who was at the centre of a cronyism row last year when he was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in an attempt to help him secure a seat in the Seanad.