FOLLOWING his “rejection” by Fianna Fáil at the party’s West Clare Electoral Area convention on Monday, Councillor Tom Prendeville has claimed that he was approached immediately after the meeting and asked if he wanted to be added to the list of candidates.
The sitting Kilrush Town Councillor refused to completely rule out running as an independent candidate, labelled Fianna Fáil a rural organisation, said the late Nelson Mandela wouldn’t have been successful at the convention and maintained that he was “shafted” by Fianna Fáil party strategists.
Outgoing county councillors PJ Kelly (51 votes), Pat Keane (50) and Bill Chambers (32) were selected to run for the party in next year’s expanded West Clare constituency, which will elect eight councillors. This means that, as of now, Fianna Fáil will have no Kilrush town candidate in the field for the 2014 election. It has also emerged that there is no registered Fianna Fáil member within Kilrush town.
Michael O’Neill (15), Tom Prendeville (7) and Rita McInerney (1) were the remaining candidates. Outgoing North Clare councillors Richard Nagle and Michael Hillery were automatically chosen to field as candidates in the northern part of the new constituency.
All councillors addressed the meeting on Monday night, while Councillor Prendeville expanded on his loss on Tuesday.
“I felt that convention rejected my offer to stand for West Clare. I’ve given 30 years as a community activist and that was utterly disregarded. I felt let down by Fianna Fáil,” Tom Prendeville told The Clare Champion.
“Interestingly, as I moved through the hall, I was approached by a senior member of the organisation. I’m talking about a very senior member, who said to me ‘do you want to be added, Tom?’ I said ‘don’t talk to me about anything of that nature, at this moment in time, after I got shafted by your strategists’. I said I needed to review the situation and maybe sometime in January I’ll revisit it again. At the moment, I’m not even considering the possibility of being added to the ticket,” he added.
He is not ruling out fielding as an independent candidate.
Fine Gael have added Kilrush Town Councillor Marian McMahon Jones to their list of candidates, while fellow Fine Gael Town Councillor Ian Lynch is considering running as an independent, having not been selected by the party at their recent convention.
Councillor Prendeville reflected, “It [running as an independent] is an option but at this stage, I want to get a reaction from the community I represented successfully for 30 years. When the word gets out, it will alert people to the fact that they won’t have somebody, who has represented them for 30 years, to represent them and that experience has been consigned to the litter bin.
“Usually when someone is unsuccessful at convention, the consolation prize is to run independent. But I don’t think that running independent is a panacea for disappointment. What I’m going to do is I will consult for the next six or eight weeks, I will listen to what people say and I will take it from there,” he said.
Councillor Prendeville claimed the late Nelson Mandela wouldn’t have succeeded on Monday if he had been a candidate at the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point.
“Under the PR system if Nelson Mandela, God be good to him, came back to life on Monday night, he wouldn’t have made it onto the ticket. That is a fact. He wouldn’t have got through. You can buy convention. It’s a flawed system. I guarantee you that next year, Fianna Fáil will have less people paying the €20 to register,” he maintained referring to the fact that voters had to pay €20 to register for membership and therefore become entitled to a vote at convention.
On Monday night, Limerick TD Niall Collins, who chaired the convention, said the €20 charge was a talking point.
“We can argue about whether €20 is too much or too little. If it was less, I’d be the first man to argue that you’d have people trying to buy a convention,” Deputy Collins stated.
Meanwhile, Councillor Prendeville is using the late South African president as an inspiration.
“Where do I go? Again I’d quote from Nelson Mandela, who said, ‘judge me not on my successes but rather on the number of times I fall down and struggle to get up on my feet’. I’m at pains to emphasise the disappointment and the hurt that I felt. Not at Monday night because I knew it was a foregone conclusion but at the strategists in Dublin. I understand they were told it was the wrong strategy but yet they decided to go ahead with it. The reason they went ahead with the three-candidate strategy was in the event of one of the outgoing councillors not getting through convention. That would allow Fianna Fáil the luxury of adding them on,” he stated.
Councillor Prendeville said he noticed an outbreak of nervous tension at the top table at one point during his convention speech.
“When I used the phrase ‘I’m reviewing the situation’ in my speech, that sent tremors across the table. I could see [Deputy] Dooley and all of a sudden he was getting fidgety. He knew exactly what I was talking about. It was amazing to see the reaction afterwards when people were coming up to me and saying ‘well done, that was the finest speech we ever heard. If we had a vote again, we’d give it to you.’ I said ‘lads, it’s not your problem. The problem now lies with Fianna Fáil. They’ve thrown the dice and the dice came out wrong for them, not for me.’ I don’t know how they’re going to repair it. A simple phone call to me isn’t going to do the business,” he predicted.