Labour MEP Phil Prendergast has said she’s confident of winning a seat in Brussels following her party rival Senator John Gilroy’s dramatic withdrawal from the race last week.
After weeks of bitter wrangling between the pair who had been competing for the single Labour ticket in Ireland South, Senator Gilroy pulled out of the selection process, blaming “a lack of decision-making” by the party.
Mr Gilroy told reporters that the Labour selection convention scheduled for March 9 was ‘too late’ and would have left too short a period before polling day to run a proper campaign.
Ms Prendergast issued a statement following his announcement, commenting that they had both been in agreement that a one-candidate strategy was ‘the best way forward’ for the party in Ireland South. She added that she ‘never had a problem with Senator Gilroy’s ambitions’ and that she was sure he would now ‘continue his hard work’ in the Seanad.
Previously, Ms Prendergast had lashed out at what she described as Mr Gilroy’s ‘condescending’ remarks when he said she had ‘fulfilled a role’ in the European Parliament but that he offered a ‘better way’ of representing the people.
“I have 20 years in politics, twice as long as John has, so in terms of representing the constituents and people’s viewpoints, I’m more than up for the job. I am actually carrying out the mandate that it takes to be a member of the European Parliament, and I have a record that stands ahead of some of the MEPs that have been here for a full term,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael has decided to run just two candidates for Ireland South. They are sitting MEP Sean Kelly and Senator Deirdre Clune. Sinn Féin is putting forward one contender for a seat, former RTÉ producer Liadh Ní Riada.