INTENTIONS DECLARED Cllr Patsy O’Brien.
FINE GAEL councillor Patsy O’Brien has stated that he will put his name forward at the Mayo Fine Gael Selection Convention for the next General Election.
In a letter to members of the party in Mayo, Cllr O’Brien said 2018 will mark his 40th year as a member of the Fine Gael party and after serving the electorate since 2004, he now intends to put his name forward.
The Robeen resident told The Mayo News last night (Monday) that places like Claremorris and Ballinrobe have as much of an entitlement to a candidate for a seat as Castlebar does when it comes to the party. The Irish Rail employee and farmer believes a date for the Fine Gael Selection Convention could be early next year.
“Geographically I’m better placed to have a go, and take three out of four [seats] for Fine Gael,” said O’Brien, who topped the poll with 2,760 first preference votes in the Claremorris Electoral area in 2009.
O’Brien campaigned heavily in the last year for the return of all 7,500 electoral votes from Ballinrobe and surrounding areas to be returned to the Mayo constituency, having been transferred to Galway West. Ballinrobe is expected to return but villages such as Cong and the Neale may still remain in the Galway West constituency.
O’Brien voiced his concern over a possible directive being handed down by Fine Gael HQ stating that each area should have a specific candidate.
“If the party use a directive system it will leave the people of Ballinrobe, Claremorris, Kiltimagh, Charlestown with no one, that’ll give them no opportunity. I’ve made that known to the Taoiseach that that’s the way I feel on the ground. And if there’s a directive it will get an adverse reaction by the people of the area, and be detrimental to the party and divisive.”
He went on: “There is a lot of talk around designated areas for candidates, ‘one from there’ and ‘one from there’, that to me is undemocratic.”
“Some believe there should be a candidate in Castlebar because it’s the main town with 10,000 people, if you take in Claremorris and surrounding areas like Ballinrobe and you incorporate them with Ballyhaunis, Kiltimagh, Kilkelly and Charlestown, you have 14,500 voters that aren’t going to have a chance to have a TD. It’s not fair.”
Asked if he is concerned about former Mayo senior footballer Alan Dillon being selected, O’Brien said he had no problem with ‘anyone’ putting their name forward for the party.
“That’s his own prerogative, I don’t know the fella personally, but he’s entitled to put his name forward.”
In response to whether he thought it would be fair if he could canvass Castlebar, O’Brien said he was simply asking that no direction on candidates in specific areas should be given by the party.
“I’m totally against that. What I’m asking is, the people in Mayo, the members to decide who their candidates will be and if it’s fair and equitable but I don’t think areas should be shut down … We’re not political fodder.”
The councillor cited job creation, addressing rural crime and infrastructure as the major topics he would address if becoming successfully elected as a TD for the area.
He added that he would support the West on Track campaign to open the rail network from Claremorris to Athenry and the further development of Ireland West Airport Knock.
Having served Castlebar electoral areas such Partry, Carnacon, Robeen and Mayo Abbey, O’Brien feels he is no stranger to the Castlebar region.
Though he has not asked colleague and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, about his thoughts on his decision, he said he is ‘quite confident’ their ‘wonderful working relationship’ would continue.