Fine Gael are close to poaching a leading Cork councillor who yesterday resigned from the Labour party in frustration at being prevented from running in the general election. Fermoy-based Cllr Noel McCarthy last night told the Irish Examiner he was considering his options after leaving Labour.
Mr McCarthy’s move to Fine Gael would lead to him being one of the party’s three candidates in the four-seater constituency, alongside outgoing party TDs Tom Barry and David Stanton.
Cllr McCarthy secured one of the highest votes for Labour in the local elections, securing some 3,511 votes. His defection leaves just one Labour councillor in Cork county.
Irish Aid minister Sean Sherlock, a Labour TD in Cork East, is opposed to him being added to the ticket for the election, Cllr McCarthy said:
“I’ve given my resignation. Groups have approached me. I want to run in the general election. I also wanted to run for Labour in 2011, but Sean Sherlock stopped me.” Labour headquarters had tried to persuade Cllr McCarthy to stay in the party in recent days, but he will now remain independent as he weighs up his options.
Minister Sherlock did not want to comment on the reported row over the election selection yesterday.
Fine Gael TD Tom Barry said the addition of Cllr McCarthy to Fine Gael would be welcome.
“If Noel is added, we will be running the same strategy we did in 2011 [the last general election], with three candidates in a four-seater “The onus is on me to get elected. Noel is an excellent councillor. He would be well utilised in Fine Gael.” A senior Fine Gael source said Cllr McCarthy’s move could happen in a matter of days. “He could overtake Tom or help him in the election,” said the source, indicating his defection would not affect relations between Fine Gael and Labour going into the election. “These things happen. We need to bolster our second seat.” Cllr McCarthy would be expected to sweep up votes in his heartland of Fermoy in the election. Meanwhile, sitting Cork East TDs, will see strong competition from Fianna Fáil candidate Kevin O’Keeffe, son of ex-TD Ned O’Keeffe.
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