FF TDs have 'no doubt' party's hierarchy will consider running Billy Kelleher in European elections

Billy Kelleher.

Two senior Fianna Fáil TDs have said they have "no doubt" the party's hierarchy will consider running Billy Kelleher in the imminent European elections despite his failure to be selected by grassroots members.

Thomas Byrne and Fiona O'Loughlin said they believe officials will be "looking" at adding Mr Kelleher or female candidates in the coming days - despite insisting the decision is entirely in headquarters' hands.

On Saturday, long-standing Cork TD Mr Kelleher lost out by just eight votes to Wexford councillor Malcolm Byrne in his bid to be selected as Fianna Fáil's Ireland South candidate in the European elections.

Mr Kelleher broke ranks by ignoring party leader Micheal Martin's calls for no sitting TD to run.

Education spokesperson Thomas Byrne and equality spokesperson Fiona O'Loughlin said the matter is entirely up to Fianna Fáil's national constituencies committee.

However, noting Mr Kelleher's experience in national politics, the TDs said they believe senior officials will consider adding him to the Ireland South ticket in the coming days.

When asked whether a female candidate should be added instead as Fianna Fáil is currently running an all-male MEP ticket, Mr Byrne said there are "a number of factors" and that "there can be no doubt the party will be looking at that".

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