Former TD Aine Collins has ruled out contesting the next general election for Fine Gael saying she did not want to divide the party locally in Cork-even though research showed she was well positioned to win a seat.
The businesswoman recently expressed concern about Fine Gael wooing independent John Paul O'Shea, a popular politician in the Cork North West constituency. He has since joined Fine Gael.
In a statement released today, Ms Collins explained her decision, saying she intended to remain in politics.
She explained that Fine Gael had commissioned a piece of research across the consistency to see where she stood when it comes to winning a seat for Fine Gael in the next general election.
“The research was very clear in that it currently showed that I have the best chance of winning this second seat for Fine Gael in a 2 or 3 seat strategy.
“I was showing very strong support, in particular among young voters, the business community and women across the consistency. This was a hallmark of my 2011 success.
"However, winning this seat is always a challenge and since the formation of this constituency in 1981 it has always been either two Fine Gael or two Fianna Fail seats."
The Fine Gael research, added Ms Collins, also said that the only hope Fine Gael would have of winning a second seat in the next General Election is if the party worked together. But Ms Collins now believes an attempt by her to compete with others in the constituency could divide the party locally:
“However, it has become clear to me that a small group of individuals within the Fine Gael party believe others have a better chance of winning this much treasured second seat in Cork North West.
"Nothing new here, this is just the cut and trust of politics! But being so steeped in the party and in politics I know that putting my name forward right now would only end up dividing the party which is something l have no interest in participating in.”
Fine Gael consider regaining a second seat in the three-seater as crucial in its “trench warfare” with Fianna Fáil if it is to regain lost positions in Munster and ultimately succeed in the next general election.
Ms Collins was elected alongside Michael Creed, the agriculture minister, in Cork North West in 2011 when Fine Gael swept into power with 48% of votes in the three-seater. She was the first women to get elected there.
But the 2016 vote returned Mr Creed and two Fianna Fáil TDs, Michael Moynihan and Aindrias Moynihan. Ms Collins and Mr O’Shea both missed out on the last seat.