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Dillon considering options after Fine Gael talks


PUBLIC FIGUREAlan Dillon raises the National Flag during the 1916 commemorations at Ballyheane NS with school Principal Anne Marie Kelly and Mr Eamonn Gormley, as pupils watch. Could the former All-Star be attending functions as a politician in the near future. Pic: Michael Donnelly

Edwin McGreal

With a prospective General Election now not expected in the immediate future, Mayo footballer Alan Dillon has been given more time to consider his options, according to a party chief.
The recently retired Mayo star could have been faced with a whirlwind few weeks if a General Election was announced before Christmas and he committed to running.
The Mayo News broke the news on Thursday last that Dillon and party chiefs in the county are in talks about the possibility of him standing for the party in the next General Election.
Dillon confirmed he was considering his options after the approach.
“I am interested in getting involved with Fine Gael, certainly. It is not for me to decide whether that is in the next General Election or not. That is up to the party. I’m aware there’s people there who have served the party for a long number of years.
“But if the members of the party were in favour, I would be interested. It is a big opportunity, a big challenge,” Dillon told The Mayo News.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, John McHugh, the Chairman of the Mayo Constituency for Fine Gael, said the offsetting of an election affords Dillon more time to consider his options.
“He’s able to think about it over the Christmas but we hope he will be going before our convention in 2018. We’re very happy he is interested. He’s a bright, young, enthusiastic and determined,” said Mr McHugh.
He added that Dillon would need to be formally nominated in advance in writing by two party members once a convention date is set.
Dillon, who retired from the Mayo football team last week after 15 seasons, said he would bring ‘freshness’ to the role if he went forward.
“I feel I would have dynamic qualities, would bring youth and freshness to the role and I have a real passion for Mayo, its people and the issues on the ground here. My wife Ashling has her own business in Castlebar and would be very up to speed with the issues relating to business in the town,” said Dillon.
The two-time All Star said he is a long-time supporter of Fine Gael and would not be a ‘parachute candidate’ if he went forward.
Both sides of his family are steeped in Fine Gael. His uncle Ollie Dillon is Chairman of the Ballyheane branch of the party while his mother’s sister, Kathleen Coady, was Enda Kenny’s secretary for many years.
Kathleen’s late husband, Liam, was a former Castlebar urban district councillor and, at the time of his death in 2010, was the official driver for Enda Kenny, then the leader of the opposition.
“I’m a member of the party, Fine Gael is very strong in our family. I remember well being up in Coadys home in Knockthomas in younger years and all the talk of politics there, you were immersed in it,” said the Ballyheane man.
Dillon said he is ‘a big admirer’ of Enda Kenny and has always been ‘intrigued and excited by elections’.
“This seat (for Fine Gael in Castlebar) hasn’t been available since 1954 when Enda’s father Henry was first elected so we are in new territory. There’s a lot to consider. I’m speaking to my wife and my family about it. Getting involved in politics was something I always was keen to do and I honestly felt it would be starting at a more local level but if it was to be for a General Election, that is something I would have to give a lot of thought to,” he said.

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