independent

Saturday 20 January 2018

Twomey proves to be the big winner

D'ARCY AND KEHOE THROUGH AS EXPECTED, BUT...

CONOR CULLEN

LIAM TWOMEY'S election credentials received a ringing endorsement from his fellow Fine Gael members last Thursday night as he romped home at the party's selection convention in White's Hotel.

Senator Twomey received 212 first preferences from the 535 votes cast, representing almost two quotas, and putting him comfortably ahead of sitting Deputies Paul Kehoe (167) and Michael D'Arcy (126), and a huge distance ahead of his competition for the Wexford area spot on the ticket, Cllr Jim Moore, who received 30 first preference votes.

Such was the Rosslare-based doctor's margin of victory that Deputy D'Arcy was selected third on Senator Twomey's surplus.

The results, which were not publicly announced during the convention, crowned a great night for Senator Twomey and his supporters after he had given a rousing speech to the Fine Gael delegates to secure his place on the ticket.

He spoke with passion and conviction during one of his most impressive public appearances and the crowd responded in a way they hadn't for the previous three candidates (they spoke in alphabetical order).

The first thing that Senator Twomey did after he took to the podium was face up to past mistakes, referring specifically to his failure to be re-elected in 2007, when he was Fine Gael's health spokesman.

'I learn from my mistakes, I was naive about the last election. I did make mistakes,' he admitted. He said that he 'travelled the whole country trying to get other people elected', but neglected his home patch.

Senator Twomey said he failed to heed the famous words of the late US Senator Tip O'Neill that 'all politics is local', but promised the Fine Gael delegates 'that is one mistake I will not be repeating'.

'People say I can be shy, soft spoken and not aggressive enough – do not interpret that as a weakness,' said Senator Twomey. He spoke of the 'steely resolve' he possesses as a doctor, having seen people die in tragic circumstances.

Senator Twomey told the delegates he was making them three promises. The first was 'a huge (election) campaign' that would see no door left without being knocked on. 'People will remember they met Liam Twomey on this election trail,' he said.

His second promise was that he was committed to the principles that Fine Gael stands for and he spoke of his family's support for the party, and his third promise was to be honest. 'I will always tell you the truth, not just what you want to hear,' he said.

Senator Twomey, as his colleagues had done, then went on to castigate Fianna Fáil for its failed economic policies and talked about Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's assertion that we had 'turned a corner' in late 2009 ('straight into a concrete mixer truck with the registration IMF 2011') and Ministers Dermot Ahern and Noel Dempsey ('the two nodding donkeys of this government').

He also spoke about the re-emergence of mass emigration, before outlining why he feels he would be the man to get things done for Wexford.

'I know my way around the Department of Finance, the Department of Health and the HSE like I know my way around my own home,' said Senator Twomey.

'I have spoken to Olli Rehn (European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs) and Ajai Chopra (who led the recent IMF delegation to Ireland) about this useless government,' said Senator Twomey, who was part of the Fine Gael team that met with the IMF and EU team regarding the bailout.

Senator Twomey said he is close to the party leadership and 'will not be Mighty Mouse in County Wexford and Mickey Mouse in Dublin' when the next government is formed.

However, he also said that he 'knows what it is to be local' and would use his influence to work on important local issues like job creation and protecting Wexford General Hospital from the threat of downgrading.

'You can back me or sack me,' Twomey told the delegates, quoting former Prime Minister John Major. However, he also told them if they backed him, he would secure a third seat for Fine Gael.

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