Renua left with no elected representatives after leader quits party

Former Renua party leader John Leahy.

Renua have been left with no elected representatives after leader John Leahy announced he was leaving the party.

The Offaly county councillor topped the poll in the Birr constituency in the recent local elections.

Mr Leahy is stepping down as leader and leaving the party to run as an independent.

It is understood he has already struck a deal to support Fianna Fail on Offaly County Council and has secured the position of Leas Cathaoirleach.

He had been the leader of Renua since 2016 after the party failed to secure any Dáil seats in the General Election.

The party, which was founded in 2015 by Lucinda Creighton and Eddie Hobbs, is now left without any elected representatives.

Mr Leahy secured more than 2,000 first preference votes in the Birr constituency in the local elections. He was one of 27 candidates who ran for the party.

Mr Leahy confirmed he will run as an independent candidate in the Laois/Offaly constituency in the next general election.

“This will be my third roll of the dice. But I can’t keep rolling the dice, this will be one last big effort,” he told local radio station Midlands 103.

Following the disappointing results for Renua in the local elections, he and his wife sat down and discussed the future. “I was disappointed. I didn’t get to enjoy the fact that I got elected to Offaly County Council. I was disappointed that I failed to get the other Renua candidates over the line.

“There were 26 people disappointed, that didn’t get elected, that were rejected by the people.”

He denied a suggestion that he was “pushed” by the national board of the party.

I wasn’t pushed. I think maybe the board feels that the message is wrong and I don’t want to stand in their way. They understood my logic. The message was rejected, it hasn’t worked, they need to go in a different direction. A clean cut was needed.

He said his job had been to make everyone know who Renua is. The issues of concern to the party were nurses, crime and migration. “We are 100% behind the nurses. The government is too soft on crime.

“I have genuine concern about the numbers of people coming into the country. They are putting people who are undocumented into direct provision and then sending them out into communities. Look what happened in Rooskey.”

However, he acknowledged that the issue had not come up on the doorsteps while canvassing in the local elections.

Economic migrants were clogging the system he said. They were being put first on the list ahead of Irish people. He had no problem where people were fleeing dangerous situations, but he did not think it fair that “Irish citizens were being put down the list.”

“Irish people shouldn’t be put down the list because of asylum seekers.”

He said he had been “manager of the team” and the team had failed to win the game. “Some people told me that if I had gone as an Independent I would be in Dáil Eireann now, but I couldn’t walk away.

I gave it three years of my life. I sacrificed a lot, but I also gained a lot.

When asked how the €250,000 allocated to the party because it achieved two per cent of the vote in the last general election, had been spent, he said he had a salary of €65,000, but that €250,000 “doesn’t come close to what is needed to run a political party.”

He added that he now has to seek employment. “I had to give up a job to go to Renua. I like to think that I was brave to do that.”

It will take a few weeks for him and his wife to decide what he will do next, but he was adamant that he will contest the next general election as an Independent candidate.

“It will take €12,000 to run a decent campaign. I am a hard worker. I feel there is a place for me in Dáil Eireann. I don’t feel that I failed as an individual. I don’t regret joining Renua. When you sign up, you sign up and you see it through.”

He said he had learned a lot during his time with Renua such as policy-making and lobbying.

“I have no regrets whatsoever.”

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