Cork: FF’s Noel O’Flynn Among 35 TD’s Of (All Parties) Not Standing In Election: UPDATED

31 Jan

Fianna Fáil TD Noel O’Flynn (Cork North Central) has this morning said he will not stand in the upcoming general election.

Mr O’Flynn‘s decision came after new Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin asked him to consider not standing alongside Minister for Trade and Commerce Billy Kelleher for the sake of the party in the election.

Commenting on the decision, Mr Martin said: “Noel spoke to me during the week. I went to Noel because when I came into office I went through the various data over a period of time, assessed the situation in Cork North Central, and it seemed to me the obvious situation there is that we are working to retain one seat. We won’t retain two.”

“I put that to Noel, and he very generously said, having reflected on it, that in the best interests of the party he would support a younger man like Billy Kelleher and he would get his organisational supporters to row in behind Billy in the interests of the party and the constituency, and that he believed Fianna Fáil should have one representative coming out of Cork North Central in the next Dáil.

“He took that very generous decision, and I commend him for it. That enables us in Cork North Central to put the entire effort behind one candidate, junior Minister Billy Kelleher, who is a strong candidate and has a bright future ahead of him in Irish politics.

He paid tribute to Mr O’Flynn (59), saying they had been friends for many years on Cork City Council. “He had his own principles and views, which, as you know, he articulated independently and honestly.

“He saw it himself when he looked how the scenario that was unfolding in terms of vote breakdown, and I think he took a sensible decision in the interests of the party because he has given the latter part of his life to politics, both locally and nationally, and it was a very difficult and painful decision for any individual, particularly a person of Noel’s fighting qualities.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said he had made no promises to Mr O’Flynn for stepping aside, but he noted the O’Flynn family is committed to politics and public life and said there will be another day for it.

In a statement, the outspoken TD said: “This has been a very, very difficult decision to come to. Politics has been a huge part of my life and the thought of not being involved in the forthcoming general election campaign is disappointing.

“However, after discussing the topic with my family, my friends, my supporters in Cork North Central and Fianna Fáil Party Leader, Micheál Martin, I think the best interests of the party are served if I retire from politics and do not go forward for the general election.

“I would like to think that I have shown leadership during my time in Fianna Fáil and in politics. I was one of the first to publicly back Micheál Martin for the leadership of Fianna Fáil.”

Mr O’Flynn encouraged his party colleagues “to put the people and the party first” and reconsider contesting the election if it will hurt Fianna Fáil’s prospects in a constituency. “Politics is a tough game but sometimes the hard decisions are the best solution.”

Mr Kelleher paid tribute to his constituency colleague after his decision to retire from politics.

“Noel has been a marvellous constituency colleague over the years,” said Mr Kelleher. “He has worked tirelessly for the people of Cork North Central and has made a fantastic contribution to public life in Cork.

“I’d like to thank him for taking this gracious decision and stepping aside from contesting the forthcoming general election,” Mr Kelleher said.

During the recent leadership debate within Fianna Fáil, Mr O’Flynn had called for Mr Martin to take over from Brian Cowen as leader.

A total of 35 TDs from all parties have now confirmed they will not contest the election.

NEWS UPDATE:

Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East Niall Blaney has become the latest Dáil deputy to announce he will not run in the General Election, following an earlier announcement from Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn that he also stepping down.

 Noel O'Flynn - Outspoken in seeking resignation of Brian Cowen
 Noel O’Flynn – Outspoken in seeking resignation of Brian Cowen
 
 Micheál Martin - Asked O'Flynn not to run
 Micheál Martin – Asked O’Flynn not to run
Fianna Fáil TD Niall Blaney has become the latest Dail deputy to announce he will not run in the General Election.

The deputy for Donegal North East cited ‘personal reasons’ for his decision.

Mr Blaney was first elected to the Dáil in 2002 for Independent Fianna Fáil but his organisation merged with Fianna Fáil in 2006.

Deputy Blaney is a son of former TD Harry Blaney and nephew of Neil T Blaney.

Deputy Blaney withdrew ahead of a Fianna Fáil selection convention for the constituency tonight.

Senator Cecilia Keaveney also stated before the convention that she would not be running.

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central Noel O’Flynn announced earlier today that he will not be contesting the General Election.

Newly elected Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin confirmed he asked Cork Mr O’Flynn to consider not running for the sake of the party.

Speaking to RTÉ news this morning Deputy O’Flynn said he believed there would only be one seat for Fianna Fáil in his constituency.

Deputy O’Flynn, aged 59, has represented Cork North Central as a TD for the past 14 years.

He was outspoken in calling for former party leader Brian Cowen to resign.

Speaking in Cork, Mr Martin said that he had gone through the data for Cork North Central – now a four seat constituency – and having found that it would not be possible for them to elect two Fianna Fáil TDs in the constituency, asked Deputy O’Flynn to stand down and lend his full support to a younger candidate, former Minister of State Billy Kelleher.

Mr Martin said Deputy O’Flynn very generously agreed to do so in the interests of the party.

He described him as a good friend who had his own views and principles which he articulated independently and honestly.

Mr Martin said it was very difficult for him to ask this of someone of Deputy O’Flynn’s fighting qualities.

8 Fianna Fáil candidates selected

Eight Fianna Fáil candidates were selected at five selection conventions which were held tonight.

They candidates are Charlie McConologue in Donegal North East, Micheal Kitt and Michael F Dolan in Galway East, Denis O’Donovan and Christy O’Sullivan in Cork South West, Dara Calleary in Mayo, Gerry Kilraine and Ivan Connaughton in Roscommon South Leitrim.

Candidates may be added also to the tickets in Mayo and Donegal North East, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson said.

The only remaining selection convention is in the Taoiseach’s constituency of Laois Offaly, which will take place on Tuesday night.

In Roscommon South Leitrim Rachel Doherty, daughter of the late Justice Minister Sean Doherty, refused to let her name go forward after the convention, chaired by Brian Lenihan, decided on a two candidate strategy.

Debates key to election – Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said said the key to the election is substantial debates and he appealed to Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny to ignore the advice he is getting and participate in the debates.

Asked about today’s polls, he said 16% is not enough, but there are signs that Fianna Fáil can increase their position.

Asked about the support for him as the next Taoiseach, Mr Martin said one swallow does not make a summer.

NEWS UPDATE:

FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin suffered a significant setback last night after one of the party’s best hopes to retain a seat stunned his supporters by announcing he would not contest the election.

Sitting TD Niall Blaney failed to turn up at the Fianna Fáil selection convention for Donegal North East after earlier telling supporters he was not putting his name forward. He cited personal reasons for not standing, but would not elaborate further.

Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said she was “shocked” by Mr Blaney’s decision not to run.

The surprise announcement came just hours after Mr Martin had appeared to be getting a grip on candidate selection strategy.

Following discussions with Mr Martin, Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn announced he would not run, to give his colleague, junior minister Billy Kelleher, a better chance of retaining his seat.

But if Mr O’Flynn’s announcement was a welcome one for Mr Martin, Mr Blaney’s was the opposite.

It leaves the lower-profile councillor Charlie McConalogue as the sole Fianna Fáil nominee in the constituency, unless Mr Martin decides to add another candidate in the coming days.

But he will have to act fast, with Taoiseach Brian Cowen set to trigger the general election tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin admitted the party’s 16% showing in two new opinion polls “isn’t enough”.

While representing a modest two-point climb in FF support from the Cowen era, it comes nowhere near the 20%-25% range that Mr Martin has set as his target.

There was some good news for Mr Martin however, as one poll showed him favoured to be Taoiseach with 31% of voters, compared to 26% for Labour’s Eamon Gilmore and Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny on 19%. Mr Martin is set to name his deputy and front bench team today.

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