Local Fianna Fáil councillor and Mayor of Athlone, Aengus O’Rourke has announced that he will not be contesting the forthcoming Westmeath Convention.
Nominations closed for the selection convention last Wednesday with three candidates nominated in the county, but Cllr O’Rourke informed party headquarters that evening that he would be withdrawing his name. Local councillor, Frankie Keena has been selected to contest the convention alongside current sitting TD, Robert Troy.
Speaking last week, Mayor O’Rourke listed several reasons for his decision not to run for election.
“ I would like to thank those who nominated me even though I did not seek a nomination,” he said. “Therefore, I asked Fianna Fáil to withdraw my name on Wednesday evening this week. Politics is all about timing and for me the time was 2016. I had just fought a by-election campaign, finishing in second place well ahead of Kevin “Boxer” Moran and Sinn Féin. Fourteen months later we had a General Election but, unbelievably, Athlone was denied a candidate by the Fianna Fáil party.
“Prior to the 2016 election, I and many others spent a lot of time lobbying Fianna Fáil for Athlone to have a candidate, as it always did. But that did not happen. I am currently the Mayor of Athlone, it is an extremely busy time for me. It is a huge honour to be the first citizen of Athlone and I am giving the role 100 per cent effort. I am focused on my role and the things I want to achieve for Athlone.”
Mayor O’Rourke admitted to having ambitions of being a politician at national level and said the call to withdraw his name was not an easy one to make.
“I would love to serve at a national level. I am ambitious and I believe I would make a good candidate and a good national representative,” he said. “But I am a realist too, and if the opportunity is not there then it’s not there, and you move on, that’s life. It was not easy to make the call to withdraw my name. I did so with a heavy heart and after a lot of consideration and discussion with my family, friends and supporters. However, I am very positive about the future, and I want to thank all those who continue to support me in my public and political work.”