Fianna Fáil dealt further blow in race to replace Walsh as O’Rourke bows out

FIANNA FÁIL’S race to replace Joe Walsh on the ticket for the next General Election was dealt a further blow last night when a prominent member of the party said he wouldn’t be seeking a nomination.

Clonakilty-based Cllr Donal O’Rourke had been asked by the party to allow his name go forward for the Cork South-West constituency selection convention, but after a lot of thought had refused.

Meanwhile, fact that a date for that convention has still not been announced has annoyed a lot of party activists.

Cllr O’Rourke said he felt honoured to have been asked but had just informed party leader and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that he would not be seeking nomination.

“I still believe that the two out-going FF deputies Joe Walsh and Denis O’Donovan can be the party’s strongest possible team facing the electorate in 2007. I regret that former minister Joe Walsh has not been persuaded, to date, to change his mind about not standing. His political contribution has been immense,” Cllr O’Rourke said.

“I am convinced that Irish agriculture would have been very well served by Joe Walsh as EU Commissioner and at the time of filling that EU position a by-election would have been strategically good for the party in the Cork South West.”

While nobody is in any doubt that Denis O’Donovan will seek re-election, FF have been dithering over choosing a vote-getting successor for Joe Walsh.

Without the former Minister for Agriculture many political pundits believe that the party will find it next to impossible to retain its two seats in the constituency and that Fine Gael’s Cllr Paddy Sheehan will win back the seat he lost in the last General Election.

Cllr O’Rourke’s decision not to seek a nomination came just days after one of the front-runners, Cllr Alan Coleman, accused his party’s HQ of procrastination and secrecy.

The Belgooly-based councillor, who is leader of the FF group on Cork County Council, was critical of rumours that HQ was trying to woo Independent Cllr Christy O’Sullivan back into the fold, so he could seek a nomination.

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