Taoiseach asked to intervene in Limerick political row

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Taoiseach asked to intervene in Limerick political row

members of Fine Gael’s Willie O’Brien branch in Patrickswell have written to the Taoiseach on Fergus Kilcoyne's behalf

LEO Varadkar has been asked to intervene in a local row which has seen a long-serving Fine Gael member passed over in favour of a 20-year-old student.

There is anger in Fine Gael’s Willie O’Brien branch in Patrickswell after Daniel McSweeney was added to the party’s election ticket in City West instead of Fergus Kilcoyne, who ran for the party in the last local election and came within a whisker of being elected.

Now, 14 members of his branch have written a letter to An Taoiseach urging him to kick Mr McSweeney off the ticket, and replace him with Mr Kilcoyne, a publican in the village.

In the letter, seen by the Limerick Leader, the members say the move to put Mr McSweeney on the ticket is “undemocratic” and an “injustice.”

They add: “Fergus stood for us in the 2014 local election and was narrowly defeated on the 13th count after securing 516 first preference votes and ending up as the last person standing with 771 votes before Fianna Fail took the last seat. We as a group feel it is an injustice by not choosing Fergus to try and secure an extra seat in City West for our party that he narrowly missed out on in 2014.”

The selection of Mr McSweeney, a student at the Limerick Institute of Technology, had caused controversy after he sought a nomination from Young Fine Gael after missing out on the nod from his local branch in Patrickswell.

The 14 party members now claim Fine Gael head office “overruled” a recommendation made by the Limerick Constituency Strategy Committee that Mr Kilcoyne should run – and instead picked Mr McSweeney to seek election at the first time of asking.

As it stands, he is on the Fine Gael ticket alongside metropolitan mayor Daniel Butler and Cllr Elenora Hogan.​

For his part, Mr McSweeney said: “I was added by the National Executive body of Fine Gael and I’m absolutely delighted to be selected. I’ve hit the road, and I look forward to meeting the constituents of Limerick City West in the near future.”

As a consequence of all this, the letter states that Mr Kilcoyne has resigned as the chairman of the local Willie O’Brien branch, and is now “considering his membership of Fine Gael”.

At a meeting earlier this month, a number of other members also walked out in support of Mr Kilcoyne, the letter goes onto state.

They are also considering their future in the party.

Mr Kilcoyne also bid to be co-opted to the council back in October 2016 following Maria Byrne’s election to the Seanad.

However, the party’s grass roots instead decided Cllr Hogan, a cousin of Ms Byrne, take her seat instead.

When contacted by the Limerick Leader, Mr Kilcoyne said he will not make any comment until a reply has been received from Mr Varadkar. Fine Gael HQ has also been contacted for comment.

Limerick, and the rest of the country, will go to the polls on May 24 next.