Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on arrival at Hotel Minella in Clonmel for the start of the Fine Gael parliamentary party 'think-in'
The Fine Gael hierarchy arrived in Hotel Minella in Clonmel this morning for a two day parliamentary think-in with the task of winning back the seat lost in Tipperary in the 2016 general election high on the agenda.
The seven remaining candidates seeking a FG nomination in the Tipperary constituency to contest the next general election will avail of every opportunity over the two days to be pictured with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and leading FG figures with would be candidates jockeying for favour in what will be an intriguing internal contest.
The difficulty of the task of the chosen candidates ,however, will have a huge bearing on what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Education Minister Richard Bruton actually deliver at a local level in response to campaigns concerning overcrowding at South Tipperary General Hospital and funding for five Tipperary primary schools for more resources in a disadvantaged area.
Hospital consultants and Oireachtas members ,who were refused a hearing with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have now been granted a meeting with Health Minister Simon Harris on Friday at 4.15pm in Tipperary Town where he will visit the Circle of Friends cancer care centre at 3.30pm.
Education Minister Richard Bruton met with the principals of the five Tipperary primary schools in The Park Hotel this morning.The exclusion of the five primary schools in Tipperary Town crying out for more resources in an area of high disadvantage levels from the DEIS programme was raised with Minister Bruton and the school principals made a powerful case for inclusion in the programme for over an hour.
“We were very happy to get to meet Minister Bruton and to be given an opportunity to put the case to him for the five schools and 720 pupils.Given the information presented to him this morning we are hoping that Minister Bruton will consider including the five schools in the DEIS programme” said Louise Tobin, Princpial of St.Josephs.
Following the decision of former TD and Minister Tom Hayes to withdfaw from the FG contest, seven candidates remain in the race for the Fine Gael nomination for the next general election.
Their names will go forward to the Fine Gael Tipperary Declaration convention which takes place in The Ragg, Thurles next Friday night, September 15.
Those now going forward are former TD Noel Coonan, councillors Michael Murphy, Michael Fitzgerald and Mary 'Hanna' Hourigan, as well as Garret Ahearn, son of former TD, the late Theresa Ahearn; Shelagh Marshall and Mary Newman
The Declaration Convention will give each of the candidates an opportunity to put their case forward to the Fine Gael party membership in Tipperary in advance of a selection convention early in 2018 where the party members will decide who to nominate to contest the next general election whenever it occurs
The event in the Ragg will kick start the process which will be followed by five candidate husting events in the coming weeks, one in each of Carrick-on-Suir, Roscrea, Tipperary, Nenagh and Clonmel.
Speaking ahead of the Declaration convention, Chairperson of Fine Gael in Tipperary, Lucy McCormack, said - ‘’We are delighted to see such interest in the party in contesting the nomination and for the membership to have such an array of people to choose from. It should be a great event on Friday night and I would invite anyone with an interest to come along and see for themselves.
"Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other ministers will be in attendance and it will be a chance for members ad supporters to hear from and meet with them as well as our eight potential candidates.
"It is intended to have the hustings complete prior to Christmas and the selection convention itself held early in the new year."