Contorversial Galway senator Fidelma Healy-Eames will not be renewing her membership of Fine Gael, almost a year after she was expelled from the FG parliamentary party.
Sen Healy-Eames, who has been a member of the Reforrm Alliance since last year, was still, technically a Fine Gael member. However, with the deadline for membership renwal forms looking, the Maree based politician has chosen to leave the party and work as “an Independent allied to the Reform Alliance”.
“I found it a very difficult decision,” Sen Healy-Eames told the Galway Advertiser. “I had remained in FG out of lyalty to the party and it’s members, but I knew that I would not be standing for the party in the next General Election. Enda Kenny made it clear that those who voted against the Abortion Bill would not stand, so for me to rejoin would be sending mixed messages.”
However, in a ‘you can take the person out of the party, but not the party out of the person’ move, the now Independent senator has pledged to support a number of Fine Gael candidates across Galway city and county in the upcoming Local Elections. She will also support a variety of independent candidates as well, many of whom will be in direct competition with FG hopefuls.
“I am primarily concerned with local issues in Galway city and county,” she said. “I will support Fine Gael and Independent candidates who will add value to the council in their respective areas. Having been expelled from the FG parliamentary party last July, I find myself in an interesting situation where I can support candidates that share common ground on key issues.”
Sen Healy-Eames said the introduction of local property tax means councillors have more responsibility “when it comes to deciding how money is spent locally”, and that this “requires a certain set of skills”.
She said such qualities were evident in Galway City East Independent Noel Larkin and Fine Gael Galway City West candidate Pearce Flannery.
For her own base of Oranmore-Athenry, the Senator has come out in support of FG councillors Peter Feeney and Liam Carroll, as well as first-time candidate and Independent James Charity, who, she said, is “active in helping homeowners and individuals with mortgage and debt difficulties”.
Of the various FG female candidates, Sen Healy-Eames singled out Oranmore-Athenry’s Josette Farrell as “a fine community activist”, and Galway City West candidate, Cllr Michelle Murphy, as “a professional to the core”.
Fine Gael is looking to take two seats in Galway City Central, and its two candidates, councillors Pádraig Conneely and Frank Fahey have received the Senator’s backing. However, so have independents Mike Geraghty and Cormac Ó Corcorain, the latter described as having “a strong set of values and a champion for small business”.