Question mark over Labour's general election participation in Kerry after O’Brien announcement

A question mark hangs over Labour's participation in the general election in Kerry after an announcement by Cllr Terry O’Brien, former mayor of Tralee and Kerry that he has decided he will not run.

Question mark over Labour's general election participation in Kerry after O’Brien announcement

A question mark hangs over Labour's participation in the general election in Kerry after an announcement by Cllr Terry O’Brien, former mayor of Tralee and Kerry that he has decided he will not run.

Mr O'Brien said he has been approached by the party but will not go forward for election.

If they fail to get a candidate, it would be the first time since 1933 that Labour will not have fielded a candidate in Kerry.

During its heyday, at the height of the Dick Spring era, the party held two seats in the county — one in Kerry North, and one in Kerry South.

In a statement, Mr O’Brien, who has been a councillor for 20 years, said: “I would like to confirm that I have been approached by the Labour Party to contest the 2020 General Election.

"I would have been honoured to represent the party, as I believe in what it stands for, but after a few days of deep negotiations and reflection, I have decided not to put my name forward.”

Health was a factor in his decision, said the popular Tralee man who uses a wheelchair. To do the job properly and to meet his own standards of commitment he would have to be in Dublin at least three days a week.

Mr O'Brien ran for the party in the 2007 general election but failed to win back the seat lost by Dick Spring on the election of Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris in 2002.

Data courtesy of The Irish Times

The Kerry North seat was won back for Labour in 2011 by Arthur Spring, nephew of Dick. However Arthur Spring failed to retain the seat in 2016 when Kerry became one constituency.

The last Spring to be involved in politics, Cllr Graham Spring, mayor of Tralee withdrew from politics before the last local elections in May. He has not lost interest in politics, he said, but had to develop his career to provide for a young family.

There is some speculation that Labour will approach Ben Slimm who ran in the local elections in May but who failed to make an impression.

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