Discord within Fine Gael in Limerick as former mayor backs candidate in video message

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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Discord within Fine Gael in Limerick as former mayor backs candidate in video message

Cllr Michael Hourigan's public endorsement of Eleanor McSherry has caused some discord within Fine Gael

THERE is discord in Fine Gael on the northside after veteran councillor Michael Hourigan backed Ashbrook’s Eleanor McSherry for election.

In a short video message, Cllr Hourigan – who will retire from politics in May – said: “I’m delighted to formally endorse Eleanor. I think she would make a wonderful candidate for the northside of Limerick city. What we need is someone local.”

Four Fine Gael candidates are chasing seven seats in what is shaping up to be a key battleground in the race for City Hall and it’s understood there is fury among Ms McSherry’s running mates at the open backing, with one well-placed party source branding it a “disgrace”.

Running alongside Ms McSherry are former councillor Denis McCarthy, Corbally, Brian O’Connor, Thomondgate and Olivia O’Sullivan, Caherdavin.

The video message was issued with a statement from Ms McSherry, who said that Cllr Hourigan “has endorsed Eleanor McSherry as his candidate to take his seat as he is stepping down after 20 years”.

Former mayor Hourigan has been a councillor since 1999, and topped the poll in two of his four elections; his endorsement is seen as being valuable.

“I think it’s very unfair on the other three candidates that one has been singled out. You’d wonder why did he feel the need to endorse one candidate? I think he should have mentioned all four.

“Fine Gael is a broad tent, and the four candidates reflect society as a whole It’s a shame he has only picked one candidate, as it puts the others at a huge disadvantage,” the source added.

However, Cllr Hourigan has insisted Eleanor – a member of his own branch – was the only candidate who approached him to ask for a public endorsement.

“I’d have no problem supporting anyone,” he said, “But you know local politics. It’s up to each and every candidate to get out there and gather the vote for themselves. You knock on the door, you put stuff on Facebook, you get stuff out in the Limerick Leader. That’s the work you do as far as I’m concerned. It’s very much up to the individual in my view.”

Ms O’Sullivan said Cllr Hourigan had been speaking about coming out on the canvass with her. “I’d expect him to support everybody – he’s certainly been supportive of me,” she said.

Mr McCarthy added both he and Ms O’Sullivan were “delighted” to be chosen to run for Fine Gael at the convention, with two more candidates added thereafter in the shape of Mr O’Connor and Ms McSherry. He wished Cllr Hourigan the best in his retirement.

This sentiment was also reflected by Mr O’Connor, who added he is looking forward to the campaign.

”People on the northside know the work i’ve put in,” he added.