WITH long-serving MEP Brian Crowley retired on health grounds and Kerry senator Ned O’Sullivan opting out of the race at the 11th hour, a Wexford councillor was the shock victor when Fianna Fail gathered to select a candidate for the European Parliament elections in the Ireland South constituency.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne, from Gorey, surprisingly beat Cork TD Billy Kelliher – by just eight votes – following a fiercely competitive convention in Clonmel, Co.Tipperary.
Cllr Byrne, a member of Wexford County Council since 2009, is the current head of communications with the Higher Education Authority. He has previously held positions with the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland.
Party leader Micheál Martin remarked: “I very much look forward to working with Malcolm on his campaign. He is a dedicated, enthusiastic and talented candidate who I know will run a formidable campaign. If given the chance, he will represent Ireland South with immense diligence and commitment”.
Mr Martin also thanked Brian Crowley for his dedicated service over many years.
“The close bond between him and this constituency was seen in the consistent and remarkable mandates he received over the years. The party and I wish him the very best in his retirement from politics,” he said.
Fianna Fail party sources in Kerry have suggested that Deputy Billy Kelleher could be added to the election ticket when senior officials meet next week due to the need to ensure a presence in the key Cork and Kerry area where there are tens of thousands of votes up for grabs.
The other unsuccessful candidates were MEP Brian Crowley’s substitute, Kieran Hartley from Waterford, Offaly councillor Eddie Fitzpatrick and Cork’s Jason Fitzgerald.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness, former Mayor of Cork Seamus McGrath and Senator Ned O’Sullivan from Listowel all opted out of the race.
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