Lobbying intensifies as FG to choose candidates
SELECTION CONVENTION TO TAKE PLACE THURSDAY
FINE GAEL SENATOR Liam Twomey is ' quietly confident' but taking nothing for granted as his party prepares to name its General Election candidates at a hotly-contested selection convention in Whites Hotel on Thursday night.
The GP who was first elected to the Dáil as an Independent in 2002 before joining Fine Gael in 2004, is facing competition from Cllr. Jim Moore for a nomination at the first FG selection convention in the Wexford constituency to go to a vote for many years.
There are four nominations for three candidate positions with sitting T.D's Paul Kehoe and Michael D'Arcy expected to get the party stamp of approval without any trouble, leaving Twomey and Moore to battle it out.
Behind-the-scenes lobbying has intensified in the lead-up to the convention with Twomey claiming the support of Cllrs. Pat Codd, Anna Fenlon, Philomena Roche and Jim Allen in the Wexford area and Cllr. Larry O' Brien in New Ross.
All the nominees have a vested interest in getting as big a turnout of delegates as possible and are hoping that a forecasted return of arctic weather conditions doesn't come to pass.
The fact that Twomey and Moore are living in the same district, will make the contest even tighter but the Senator believes that he has the edge, based on his record and experience although he is not counting his chickens just yet.
He lost his Dáil seat in the 2007 General Election, due mainly to the entry of Fianna Fail woman Lisa McDonald into the race. 'If I had got an extra 600 seats instead of Lisa McDonald getting them, I would have taken the third seat on that occasion,' he said.
There is a question mark over Senator McDonald's appearance this time around, with reports that Fianna Fáil is seeking to consolidate rather than risk its status quo by only running the two sitting TDs John Browne and Sean Connick.
' There is a great opportunity for Fine Gael to get three seats in County Wexford.
' The political climate has changed dramatically. With myself as the third Fine Gael candidate, a second Labour candidate and a weakened Fianna Fail, anything could happen,' he said.
Senator Twomey believes he is in the best position to hit the ground running after the next election.
On joining Fine Gael six years ago, he was appointed front bench spokesman on Health and Children. He was elected to the Seanad with the support of Fine Gael TDs, Senators and councillors across the country.
On arriving in the Seanad, he was given the Finance portfolio by the party leader, a role that put him centre stage in the recent controversy over Ireland's financial crisis and in contact with key IMF and European Commission representatives.
'I am well-acquainted with both the Department of Finance and the Department of Health, the two most crucial departments not just for Ireland but for Wexford,' he said.
'Wexford General Hospital is a core issue for me but Wexford also urgently needs to get jobs into the county. We have been badly hit in the economic downturn because we had a big construction sector in the county.'