Labour senator John Gilroy has dropped out of the race for an EU seat, and said his decision was based on “a lack of decision-making by the party”.
His decision comes as it looks likely that Fine Gael will field just two candidates in the same four-seater, and comfortably hoover up any Cork votes that would have gone to Mr Gilroy.
A senior Fine Gael figure last night also used a behind closed doors parliamentary meeting to hit out at the party’s general secretary, Tom Curran, over the handling of their EU elections campaign.
Mr Gilroy used Labour’s weekly party meeting to tell colleagues that he would not be contesting the May 23 election in Ireland South, which runs from Cork to Wicklow.
He said afterwards that the party’s selection convention, effectively between himself and sitting party MEP Phil Prendergast, was being held “too late”, on March 9.
“I put my name out there in December. We had been expecting the convention on February 25. There’s not enough time now. It’s down to a lack of decision-making by the party. But we will now back Phil 100%.”
Party members were said to be surprised at his exit. Mr Gilroy came close to taking a second seat for Labour in Cork North Central in 2011. He also got the country’s second highest local election vote in 2009.
His exit effectively gives any Cork candidate a strong chance of securing a seat.
Nominations for Fine Gael candidates there closed yesterday with Cork senator Deirdre Clune and sitting MEP Seán Kelly declared. Sinn Féin is fielding former RTÉ producer Liadh NíRiada, from West Cork.
While any changes before Fine Gael’s final selection process for Ireland South on Sunday are unlikely, Enda Kenny said earlier this week he would consider the matter today, ahead of a final vote.
But criticism broke out last night about how the party’s leadership is conducting its campaign in Ireland South. Former IFA president John Bryan’s recent decision not to run for the party there was raised by Government whip Paul Kehoe. According to party sources, Mr Kehoe said it was “disgraceful” the way Mr Bryan had been treated.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved