Fine Gael's Paudie Coffey will not contest next General Election

Fine Gael's problems in Waterford have escalated as Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey has announced he will not contest the next General Election in Waterford.

Fine Gael's Paudie Coffey will not contest next General Election

Fine Gael's problems in Waterford have escalated as Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey has announced he will not contest the next General Election in Waterford.

Informing his local radio station, WLRFM, Mr Coffey has reportedly informed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Party’s General Secretary Tom Curran of his decision.

Mr Coffey was selected to run in the Waterford Constituency over 2 years ago, however, he said in recent weeks he has “reflected on his position”.

In a statement, he said he had “notified the Taoiseach and Leader of Fine Gael Leo Varadkar TD and the Party’s General Secretary Tom Curran that he will not be contesting the next General Election whenever it may be held.”

“Over 2 years ago Senator Coffey was selected by the membership of Fine Gael in the Waterford Constituency to stand in the General Election as a Fine Gael Candidate however in recent weeks he has reflected on his position and this weekend he made the decision to leave public life when the current 25th Seanad term ends.”

Mr Coffey said he has been privileged to have represented his community as a public representative for over 20 years, serving as a member of Waterford County Council, Deputy Mayor of County Waterford, Chairman of the South East Regional Authority, a member of both Dail and Seanad Eireann and also Minister of State.

The Taoiseach praised Mr Coffey's" 20 years of unbroken service" in various elected roles.

"I'm very sorry to hear about his decision but I can understand his wish to spend more time with his wife and family and pursue other opportunities," said Mr Varadkar.

"He has been a fantastic representative for Waterford and we will miss him in the Party."

He added: "I wish Paudie the very best in the next stage of his professional life, and thank him for his hard work and dedication to Fine Gael."

A former TD, he lost his seat in 2016 and has had a frosty relationship with the party's sitting TD John Deasy.

Earlier this year, a motion of no confidence in Fine Gael TD John Deasy was tabled by a brother of his party colleague and constituency rival Senator Paudie Coffey, it has been confirmed.

The unanimous motion was passed a meeting in Dungarvan and Mr Coffey voted in support of the motion and spoke to the meeting following the vote. Mr Coffey criticised Mr Deasy’s record as a public representative for Waterford.

“He hasn’t attended meetings. Waterford Oireachtas members have attended numerous meetings with regard to one of the biggest issues in history locally, Waterford hospital. He attended one for five minutes,” he said.

In July, Mr Coffey settled his High Court action over a newspaper article which he said defamed him when he was likened to an 18th century highway robber in an article about boundary changes in south Kilkenny.

Following a 13-day trial last December, the jury was discharged on December 11th after it failed to reach a verdict, having deliberated for 11 hours over two days.

Mr Coffey, a former TD and former minister of state for the environment, now a Senator, sued Iconic Newspapers and journalist Sam Matthews, publishers of the article in the Kilkenny People on January 15th, 2016.

The article, headed “Coffey the Robber”, stated fellow FG TD John Paul Phelan had launched a furious broadside on the then minister of state accusing him of trying to “rob” a chunk of south Kilkenny.

He claimed the words falsely meant, among other things, he was guilty of misuse of public office and was a person of severe ill-repute, akin to an 18th century highwayman from Waterford. Sen Coffey comes from Waterford and lives in Portlaw.

The defendants denied the article, based on a press release issued by Mr Phelan, was defamatory.

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