Fine Gael begins fightback in Waterford, city councillor gets nod for Seanad
Fine Gael have begun planning their fightback in Waterford.
The party had a disastrous General Election campaign, winning just 35 seats and – for the first time ever – failed to return a single candidate in Waterford.
Election woes aside, the party has been plagued by controversy locally recent years.
Former TD John Deasy was widely criticised for being an “absentee” deputy in the constituency since he was narrowly re-elected in 2016 at the expense of Paudie Coffey by a margin of just a few hundred votes.
Outgoing Senator Coffey, widely expected to reclaim his seat last time around, then suddenly announced he was quitting politics, not long after the party confirmed they were running three candidates in the constituency: city-based councillor John Cummins and Dungarvan’s Damien Geoghegan.
Perhaps Senator Coffey saw the writing on the wall for the party? In the end, neither Fine Gael candidate was returned to the 33rd Dáil, Cllr’s Cummins 8,477 votes failing to stem the surge in transfers to the Green’s Marc Ó Cathasaigh, who took the fourth and final seat in the constituency.
Now it appears Fine Gael see Cllr Cummins as their main man to reclaim a seat in Waterford after he secured a nomination from the party to run in the forthcoming Seanad election.
Fine Gael’s national executive met last night to finalise its list of inside nominations for the election to the upper house, which takes place next month.
Cllr Cummins’ inclusion is significant given the number of high-profile former TDs, including Kate O’Connell and Catherine Byrne, who failed to make the list.
Fine Gael nominated a number of former TDs including outgoing junior minister Michael D’Arcy, as well as Limerick’s Tom Neville, and Dublin North West’s Noel Rock, who all lost their Dáil seats in the recent dlection.
Cummins and fellow councillor John McGahon, Emer Currie, Garrett Ahearn, Aisling Dolan, John Paul O’Shea, and Micheál Carrigy, who all ran in the election but failed to take seats, also secured nominations.
Meath county councillor Sharon Tolan also secured a nomination, as did outgoing senators Jerry Buttimer and Joe O’Reilly.
The 13 candidates are spread across the five vocational panels of culture and education, labour, administration, agriculture and industrial and commercial.
Two other Fine Gael TDs who lost their seats, outgoing government chief whip Seán Kyne and Pat Deering, have already received nominations from outside bodies to contest the Seanad election, as have a number of Fine Gael councillors and party activists.