Billy Kelleher 'excited' to be added to Fianna Fáil ticket for European elections

Billy Kelleher.

Billy Kelleher has expressed his delighted at being added to the ticket by Fianna Fáil to contest the forthcoming European elections in the Ireland South Constituency.

Six days after being defeated at a selection convention, Mr Kelleher was added by party bosses on Friday to run alongside Councillor Malcolm Byrne who beat him by eight votes.

As reported in the Irish Examiner two days ago, the Fianna Fáil National Constituencies Committee met and confirmed Mr Kelleher's addition.

Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte has also been added in Midlands-North-West.

Speaking following the announcement, Mr Kelleher said he was delighted to be on the ticket even if it wasn't the way he envisaged.

Obviously one wants to lead from the front and get on the ticket through convention but it wasn't to be.

"But I am excited now to have the chance to contest for a seat and seek to represent Ireland South at European level,” Mr Kelleher told the Irish Examiner.

Mr Kelleher was informed of the decision at 3.30pm on Friday afternoon by the party's general secretary Sean Dorgan.

Despite defying his party leader Micheal Martin, Mr Kelleher was seen by the party as its best hope of securing a seat in the Ireland South constituency.

Sources have said that Mr Martin and Mr Dorgan “took a pragmatic view” to add Mr Kelleher to the ticket.

“Micheal clearly was not happy at Billy's decision to run but once he had that was that.

"The party needed someone from Cork to contest and it would have caused a civil war had Billy not been given the nod,” said a senior party source.

Mr Kelleher was narrowly defeated by the Gorey-based Byrne by eight votes. Mr Byrne’s final vote count was 451 to Mr Kelleher’s 443.

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