Fianna Fail still reeling from shock

Fianna Fail Deputy Niall Blaney who won't be contesting the 2011 General Election
Fianna Fail Deputy Niall Blaney who won't be contesting the 2011 General Election

THE Fianna Fail organisation in Donegal North-East is still in shock after an extraordinary weekend which saw Inishowen’s Charlie McConalogue selected at a convention where sitting TD, Niall Blaney not only failed to appear but sent a statement in which he revealed he was pulling out totally from public life.

It was a move which took even well informed FF stalwarts completely by surprise.

One Inishowen delegate told me: “They (the delegates) were in shock when they came into that room, it is completely unbelievable.” Even Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, TD, said the news was unexpected. Speaking after the convention, the Tánaiste said she had not learned of Deputy Blaney’s decision until just before the convention began.

In his statement to the party, Deputy Blaney said he decided not to contest the upcoming election ‘for personal reasons’.

“I do not take this decision lightly, but it is a decision I hope my party and supporters can respect,” he said.

Minister Coughlan also announced Senator Cecilia had informed her she would not be seeking nomination and withdrawn her name, deciding instead to concentrate on her European duties.

The shock withdrawals cleared the way for young Inishowen councillor McConalogue to stand up and represent the party in Donegal North East

Letterkenny councillors Dessie Larkin was last night added to the FF ticket to, run alongside Colr McConalogue in Donegal North East.

|It is understood the Letterkenny man was in constant touch with the Blaney camp and has secured their endorsment to run.

Colr McConalogue said he left the events of the night slightly overshadowed things, but that it was extremely proud moment for him.

“It was certainly an eventful night and not how I thought the night would pan out. It’s been a very strange week, but that’s the game of politics. In the last election there was three candidates, and not one of them attended the convention.

“Niall’s withdrawal has come as a shock to all of us, but I want wish him well in the future and thank him for all the hard work he has done as a Dail Deputy for Donegal.”

MEP and former Deputy for Donegal South West Pat the Cope Gallagher paid tribute to his friend and colleague Deputy Blaney but the former Minister believes this will be the toughest election Fianna Fail will ever fight.

“I was very disappointed to hear on my arrival here tonight that my friend and colleague Niall Blaney had withdrawn from the Election. There is no doubt this will be difficult for the party, but I want to wish Niall Blaney well.

There was also annoyance expressed off the record by a number of those present that not only had Deputy Blaney not attended the convention but neither did the party’s two former TD’s - Dr. Jim McDaid and Senator Cecilia Keaveney.

Photos - See p23