Opinion is split within Fine Gael over whether or not Pádraic McCormack should be added to the party’s Election 2011 Galway West ticket.
However the decision now lies outside the hands of ordinary members as the decision ultimately rests with Dep McCormack himself.
At the party’s recent election selection convention, Sen Fidelma Healy Eames and Cllr Brian Walsh were chosen to run for the party, defeating Dep McCormack by 131 votes (Healy Eames ) and 123 (Walsh ) to 98.
The party is likely to add a third or fourth candidate to the ticket, the plan being to run two in Connemara to take votes from Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuív.
However a precedent exists within Fine Gael, where a sitting TD who has not been selected at convention can be added to the ticket, with the party leader’s permission. Enda Kenny, early last week, told Dep McCormack that he would not stand in his way if he wished to contest the next election for FG and that he should take the time to think about it.
Dep McCormack is currently consulting with his family, friends, and supporters on what to do and he said he “will not be rushed into a decision, but will take everything into consideration”.
Fine Gael members are divided as to what Dep McCormack should do. Those who feel he should stay question the merits of the membership of some of the branches who voted at the convention, arguing that such members were more interested in the individual candidate they supported, rather than the welfare of the party as a whole.
They also feel Dep McCormack is certain to retain the party’s seat and should not have been dropped so unceremoniously after serving the party as its sole Galway West TD for 21 years.
FG members who feel Dep McCormack should go believe that the party members have spoken at convention and that it would make a mockery of their vote if he was then added.
They feel his presence on the ticket would see three FG candidates all based in the same region of the constituency, a situation that risks splitting the party vote.
They also cite the recent retirements of Galway East TDs Paul Connaughton and Ulick Burke to make way for new faces, and feel Dep McCormack should do the same