Sinn Féin’s Toireasa Ferris withdraws name as general election candidate

Kerry councillor tells meeting decision was made due to health concerns

 Toireasa Ferris said  it was with ’great reluctance and heart break’ she was withdrawing. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Toireasa Ferris said it was with ’great reluctance and heart break’ she was withdrawing. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

In what will be a major blow to Sinn Féin in Co Kerry, local councillor and general election candidate Toireasa Ferris, told a meeting of the party in Tralee on Monday night, she will be withdrawing her name from the general election for personal reasons.

She told the meeting at the Kerins O’Rahilly GAA club to review the local election results it was with “great reluctance and heart break” she was withdrawing. Ms Ferris (39) married and a mother of two has been told to scale down the pace of her life after a health issue which was not serious.

A lecturer and a graduate of UL, Ms Ferris holds a masters degree in law and is completing a phD thesis.

A small number of people prior to the announcement knew of her intentions.

Co-opted in 2003 when her father, Martin Ferris was first elected to the Dáil, she was elected in 2004 and at every subsequent election, topping the poll in the Tralee area in 2014. Ms Ferris became the second female mayor of Kerry in 2005 and in 2009 polled almost 65,000 first preference votes, the third highest, in the European elections of that year.

She is to continue as a Kerry county councillor and a convention to select a new candidate will be held in August.

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Kerry Sinn Féin confirmed how at “Cllr Toireasa Ferris announced that she was regrettably withdrawing her candidature as a general election candidate due to health concerns.”

It quoted her as having told Monday’s meeting in Tralee:“This has been a very difficult decision to make but I have had a number of health issues recently, and while they have ultimately turned out not to be serious at this stage, I have been advised to make changes to the pace of my life before symptoms became established.”

It went onto quote Ms Ferris as saying the timing her announcement is not what she would have wished, “but with a looming election and to be fair to party members and the electorate I had to make this decision, which I have struggled over, now.”

Meanwhile, the focus now shifts to sitting councillor Pa (Patrick) Daly, a Tralee solicitor who works throughout the county and who has been a county councillor in the Tralee area since 2014.

The party has four councillors – two each in the Tralee and Listowel areas, the old Kerry North Constituency. The party are down over 700 first preference votes on the 2014 local elections, having lost a seat in the Kenmare area, their only seat in Kerry South. It also failed to get a seat, for the second time in Killarney.

According to sources, the decision by party leader Mary Lou McDonald to force a presidential election came in for criticism at the review meeting in Tralee.