Welfare official may run for PDs


THE press officer for the Government department of the Democratic Left leader, Mr Proinsias De Rossa, is likely to be the Progressive Democrats candidate in Dublin North East in the next general election, according to party sources.

Ms Mairead Foley, the press officer at the Department of Social Welfare, is expected to be chosen by a selection convention in the constituency within the next few weeks. Under civil service rules of employment, she would have to resign from the service should she be a general election candidate.

A spokesman for Mr De Rossa said yesterday Ms Foley had informed the Minister some time ago that she was considering an approach from the PDs. "The Minister said that it was entirely a matter for her and he applied no pressure on her. He regards her as a very competent and professional person.

Ms Foley, in her late 30s, is a career civil servant and is currently a Higher Executive Officer. She also appears weekly on RTE's Live at Three television programme to discuss social welfare issues.

She is credited with bringing significant improvements to the public profile of the Department through streamlining the press and information service there.

Dublin North East is one of the constituencies in which the PDs hope to gain a seat in the next general election. Labour currently holds two out of the four seats, and is considered unlikely to hold both.

The PD candidate in the constituency in the last election, Mr Stephen O'Byrnes, received just over 2,000 votes or 5 per cent of the vote. The party would need to more than double its share of the votes to be in the running for a seat.

Ms Foley is on holidays and was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile former Fine Gael Senator, Ms Katharine Bulbulia, was selected last night, as expected, to contest the Waterford constituency for the PDs.