Paul O’Donoghue pulls out of election over HQ ‘interference’

Interference “from outside” by Fianna Fáil headquarters led to the shock withdrawal 10 days ago of party stalwart and seasoned councillor Paul O’Donoghue from the election in South and West Kerry.

Paul O’Donoghue pulls  out of election  over HQ ‘interference’

In adding a candidate without consultation, the party contradicted its own stated aim of giving power back to the grassroots, Mr O’Donoghue has claimed.

Cllr O’Donoghue, brother of former ceann comhairle John O’Donoghue said he felt “demeaned and diminished” by the decision of the national constituencies committee to add a fourth candidate, two months after convention had selected a dream ticket for the sprawling 9-seater of South and West Kerry.

Mr O’Donoghue also said stories which circulated saying he deliberately withdrew to allow his brother John back to politics “never made sense”. He had not consulted John before making his decision to withdraw.

“I felt demeaned, out there for two years asking people to join, saying ownership of Fianna Fáil was being given back to members. I felt diminished. The convention had decided on the candidates. It was totally disrespectful to the local members.”

Three candidates for Fianna Fáil were elected when 250 people turned out at the convention on November 8. Paul O’Donoghue led the other two, his first cousin Mike O’Shea, a sitting councillor in Milltown and Breandán MacGearailt, son of the late Senator Tom from Dingle.

“There would have been no issue between us. We would have divided the constituency and there would have been a four to six-week campaign,” Cllr O’Donoghue said.

He later heard “through a third party” that 22-year-old John Francis Flynn, who was defeated at convention, was added to the ticket.

“Nothing against young Mr Flynn, but there was no good reason to upset the apple cart. The area already has two independents from the FF stable and the party could not hope to get four seats out of nine.”

A spokesman for Fianna Fáil said all candidates were made aware that the addition of further candidates was “at the discretion of the national constituencies committee.”

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