CLARE Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway said he has no immediate plans to run as an independent candidate if he is not selected as one of the party’s candidates at their Dáil selection convention this Friday night.
Speculation has been rife that the Ennistymon-based Senator might run as an independent if he is not chosen on the ticket. However, Senator Conway is confident that he will get a chance to run for Fine Gael at the next election and feels he should be added as a third candidate, if he is unsuccessful at convention.
Asked if he would run as an independent candidate, he said, “No one can predict the future. Running as an independent is a situation I wouldn’t countenance. I have no immediate plans to run as an independent.
“I believe my performance over the last few years, my proven vote-getting record and my geographical position makes a strong case for why I should be part of the Fine Gael ticket,” he said.
He believes the three-candidate strategy served the party well in 2011, describing a two-candidate strategy as a “dangerous risk”.
With Noleen Moran (Sinn Féin), who has strong North Clare links and Clare County Board GAA chairman, Michael McDonagh, from Miltown, entering the race, Senator Conway believes he is well placed to reduce their ability to secure votes in North and West Clare, noting that his political colleague, Bill Slattery, secured a seat on Clare County Council against the odds last year.
“If I am selected on the ticket, I believe I will keep the Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil candidates at a certain level,” he claimed.
“During my four and a half years in the Seanad, I believe I have proved to be a strong parliamentarian and a good media performer. I believe I have a decent media profile and I am someone with life experience as a person with a disability, which is something that Fine Gael would necessarily not have had in the past.”
It is expected that the West County Hotel in Ennis will be packed to the rafters for the selection convention which will see when four Oireachtas members, Deputies Pat Breen and Joe Carey and Senators Martin Conway and Tony Mulcahy do battle with Councillor Mary Howard and Quin’s Ger O’Halloran.
No decision has been announced as to whether or not two or three candidates would be selected by the 1,020 delegates who are entitled to vote.
Fine Gael regional party organiser, Jim McMahon, expects that a directive will be issued about the election strategy to delegates before voting takes place.
The general political consensus suggests that delegates will be asked to choose two candidates on the night, while a decision to add a third and possibly a fourth candidate will be made after the party conducts internal polls and further consultation.
Outgoing Deputies Pat Breen and Joe Carey will be fancied to each win a place on the party’s Dáil ticket. However, the fact that the highest number of candidates in recent times will contest the convention means that a surprise selection, while unlikely, cannot be completely ruled out.
Councillor Joe Cooney expects delegates will select the two outgoing deputies, as he believes they have served the county well over the last four and a half years.
He predicts the party will be asked to select two candidates on Friday, while a decision to add another candidate will be deferred until a later date.
He acknowledged it would be far better if the party’s general election strategy is decided before the convention.