Despite being unceremoniously dropped from the Fine Gael ticket for the forthcoming General Election, Pádraic McCormack is refusing to concede that this marks the end of his time in politics.
Last Sunday FG held its election selection convention for Galway West. The prevailing view was that Dep McCormack, the party’s TD in the constituency since 1989, would be nominated and that the battle for the remaining place would be between Sen Fidelma Healy Eames and councillor Brian Walsh.
It turned out though that Dep McCormack was beaten into third place on 98 votes, well behind Cllr Walsh’s 123 and Sen Healy Eames’ 131. McCormack would not be a FG candidate for the first time in almost 30 years.
“I was disappointed not to be nominated after my long service to the party,” Dep McCormack told the Galway Advertiser afterwards. “I offered my name in the interests of winning two seats and had no other motivation to stand other than that. I thought my presence would be essential on the ticket.”
Did Dep McCormack have any real inkling into how the vote might go and was he aware his position was under threat?
“I wasn’t,” he says. “That’s what the delegates decided. I can’t read their minds. When you are dealing with members, many of whom you do not know, you don’t know what reaction you will get. Traditional branch members and genuine members of Fine Gael were supporting me, but how would the others vote? That’s what I wasn’t sure of.”
Nonetheless he says he accepts the decision, wishes both candidates well, and says he will help the party to try and win two seats in Galway West. He says he has also been heartened by the reaction of many FG members and members of the public.
“People have called into the constituency office and said they were sorry I won’t be running,” says Dep McCormack. “I have received many messages of support from Fine Gael members who say they are frustrated by the result and are wondering what they will do with their vote now I am not on the ticket.”
It is likely FG will add a third candidate to the Galway West ticket and there is suggestion in some quarters that it may be Dep McCormack.
“I’m not going to be rushed into a decision. I will reflect on it and see what happens,” he says. “There is a precedence for TDs who did not get through convention, being added to the ticket later. It happened with Simon Covenny and Bernard Allen. The party leader also has the discretion of adding a candidate to a ticket if he wants to.”
However, most of the speculation on the issue concludes that is highly unlikely that Dep McCormack will be added, and that the third candidate will be Connemara based, not city based. In that case, is this the last we have heard from Pádraic McCormack?
“You haven’t heard the last of Pádraic McCormack,” he declares. “I ran in the election in 1981 and in February 1982. I wasn’t allowed to run in November ‘82 because of some regulation but eventually I became a TD in 1989 and have retained that seat for 21 years. I intend to be active in the party I have been a member of all my life.”