As expected, James Bannon TD and Senator Nicky McFadden were chosen by party members on Sunday evening, November 28, to represent Fine Gael on the ballot sheet for Longford-Westmeath in the forthcoming General Election.
It is widely expected the party’s national executive will add Mullingar-based accountant, Cllr Peter Burke to the ticket to maximise the tri-town vote in line with local rather than national FG opinion.
The likelihood of this was made a little easier after the vote was announced, when the fourth-placed candidate, Cllr Colm Arthur notified the press bench he was going to withdraw his candidacy and “ask the national executive to appoint Peter Burke as the third candidate for Longford-Westmeath”.
“I’m disappointed, naturally enough, but I’m a Fine Gael councillor and I’ll be doing my best for the party. James, Nicky, and Peter are the focus now to get Fianna Fáil out,” he said.
Around 800 of the constituency’s 1,240 Fine Gael members met on Sunday in the Park Hotel, Mullingar in order to add the third and fourth names to the official ballot. Before last Sunday, only the Labour pairing of Willie Penrose TD, and Mae Sexton had confirmed their presence on said sheet.
Fianna Fáil will be a little closer to naming its team for the election today (December 3 ) when its national executive declares all nominations it has received for candidature.
As it stands, it looks most likely that the two sitting parliamentarians - Peter Kelly TD and Mary O’Rourke TD - will follow the Fine Gael lead, with a Mullingar-based, third runner to be nominated from either Cllrs Robert Troy or Aidan Davitt. However, this is not cast in stone, as none of these have confirmed their situation prior to going to press. Within Fianna Fáil, all a prospective candidate needs for nomination is the endorsement of a local cumann (branch ), and the national executive has not released any information on what it has received to date.
2007 General Election figures (for prospective 2011 candidates )
Candidate 1st pref count status
Willie Penrose (Lab ) 9,692 made quota on 5th count
Mary O’Rourke (FF ) 8,215 made quota on 7th count
Peter Kelly (FF ) 7,720 made quota on 7th count
James Bannon (FG ) 7,652 elected on 7th count
Nicky McFadden (FG ) 5,359 eliminated on 7th count
Peter Burke (FG ) 3,988 eliminated on 4th count
Mae Sexton (Lab ) 2,298 eliminated on 3rd count
Paul Hogan (SF ) 2,136 eliminated on 2nd count
2009 local elections
Robert Troy (FF ) 1,587 elected on 1st count (Mullingar West )
Aidan Davitt (FF ) 799 elected on 9th count (Mullingar East )