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Paul Healy

Paul Healy

Hopkins keeps FG guessing




Senator may not run


The Roscommon People can exclusively reveal that Fine Gael Senator Maura Hopkins is considering not running for the party in the next General Election.

  Senator Hopkins has had a number of conversations with party HQ over her intentions. Sources have told the Roscommon People that Senator Hopkins has thus far declined to commit to seeking a nomination.  Roscommon/Galway constituency is one of only one or two in the country in which a Selection Convention has not yet been held by Fine Gael.

  As speculation about Senator Hopkins’ intentions intensified, Fine Gael HQ held talks with former TD Frank Feighan, who had decided to switch his focus to Sligo/Leitrim. Senator Feighan, a controversial figure since the closure of Roscommon A&E, says he has an open mind about running in Roscommon/Galway. Senator Feighan will be included in a mock ballot paper in internal Fine Gael polling over the coming weeks.

  Speaking to the Roscommon People from Strasbourg, Senator Hopkins said: “I’m considering whether or not to put my name forward. As you know, a convention hasn’t taken place yet. I work very hard in my job (as a senator). That has been my focus. I believe I am honest, committed, informed and competent”.

   Asked why she is not in a position to definitively say that she will seek a nomination, Senator Hopkins said: “I need to consider whether or not to put my name forward. With any such decision…you want what’s best for Fine Gael representation in Roscommon/Galway…ultimately that will be a decision for Fine Gael members at convention…with regard to my own decision, I have to decide what’s best. Politics is very demanding and I’m working very hard as a full-time Senator, and as a member of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. I need to consider whether or not I am going forward. That is the honest position at this time”.

  It is understood that, in a number of exchanges with party HQ, Senator Hopkins has declined to commit to making a new Dáil bid. She has told the Roscommon People that she is considering her position.

  With no prospect of a Selection Convention any time soon, Fine Gael HQ will now conduct internal polls to try to establish what candidate is best placed to regain a seat for the party in Roscommon/Galway.

  A number of meetings involving Fine Gael HQ and locals in Roscommon/Galway and regionally have thus far failed to provide clarity as to who will be the party’s preferred front-runner in this constituency.

  In terms of its political strength in Roscommon, Fine Gael is still dealing with the fall-out of the Roscommon A&E controversy, which peaked with the closure of the facility in 2011. Fine Gael has always had strong support in Roscommon, and in recent years this peaked with the then ‘dream team’ of Frank Feighan and Denis Naughten, who secured a historic two seats for the party in 2007 (repeating the feat in 2011). Such heady days are now but a memory, with Naughten losing the party whip and joining the Independent ranks, and Feighan opting not to contest the 2016 election.

  That’s where the then Cllr. Maura Hopkins came in. The Ballaghaderreen woman ran for Fine Gael in the 2016 General Election – a daunting enough task, given the hospital fall-out – and while it was certainly a respectable enough showing (she attracted 6,812 number ones) Hopkins failed to win a seat. While Ms. Hopkins was subsequently successful in the Seanad elections, the 2016 loss, preceded by a third-place outing in the 2014 by-election, gave party strategists food for thought and divided opinion as to whether or not Senator Hopkins can deliver a Dáil seat for the party.

  Amidst speculation that she will not contest the next General Election, the Roscommon People contacted Senator Hopkins on Wednesday. 

As Senator Hopkins ponders on her position, it is clear too that Fine Gael strategists remain to be convinced as to what individual provides the best prospect of the party regaining a Dáil seat.

  A Fine Gael source told the Roscommon People that party HQ will be “ruthless” on this issue. 

  “The party will not allow anyone to be on the ticket if HQ doesn’t believe that person can win the seat” the source said.

  Internal FG polling in the constituency will now take place as the party tries to line up a candidate who can unseat one of the incumbent trio of Michael Fitzmaurice, Eugene Murphy and Denis Naughten.







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Feighan now has ‘open mind’ on Roscommon run




Spotlight will fall on Carroll, Connaughton and Finan too


Former Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan has not ruled out making a u-turn on his decision to bid goodbye to the Roscommon/Galway constituency.

  Earlier this year Senator Feighan indicated that he  won’t run again in Roscommon/Galway, and was turning his sights on Sligo/Leitrim. He duly went went before the Sligo/Leitrim FG Selection Convention in July, before withdrawing on the night. At that gathering, Senator Feighan asked that the National Executive of Fine Gael add him as a third FG candidate in Sligo/Leitrim, claiming he could win a seat (and citing his winning record in elections).

  Now, with strong indications that Senator Maura Hopkins may opt out, there’s an unexpected twist – and, if it’s not a probability, it is a possibility that Frank Feighan may return to familiar pastures.

  Recently, party HQ asked Senator Feighan if he would consider running in his old stomping ground of Roscommon/Galway (albeit with some of North Roscommon gone into Sligo/Leitrim).

  Fine Gael will include Senator Feighan’s name on a mock ballot paper when it conducts a poll of voters in Roscommon/Galway. If Senator Feighan fares well in that polling, an unlikely comeback may be on the cards.

  As for all that hospital controversy that proved so toxic in the past, Senator Feighan says people are now seeing the hospital – and him – in a new light.

  In an advertising insert in today’s Roscommon People, Senator Feighan says he is now known as “the man who saved Roscommon Hospital”.

  We called Senator Feighan on Wednesday. He confirmed that he has been approached by Fine Gael about running in Roscommon and acknowledged that there have been discussions in the last few weeks.

  As to his intentions, he said: “My record in Roscommon is there for all to see. I have delivered on Roscommon Hospital. I have an open mind on the issue of whether or not to put my name forward in Roscommon”. He indicated that he will await the outcome of the internal polling.

  Former Galway TD Paul Connaughton could come into the reckoning. Other potential candidates include Ballinlough native Sean Finan and Kilmore man Brian Carroll. Mr. Finan is a former national President of Macra and Mr. Carroll is a well-known GAA figure, who is currently secretary of Roscommon County Board.







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Lough Ree Distillery unveils Sling Shot gin





Based in Lanesboro, Lough Ree Distillery entered Ireland’s gin scene with the launch of its Sling Shot gin at the Taste of Lakelands Food Festival.

  Sling Shot Gin is being distilled in a custom-built distillery in Lanesboro while construction of the state-of-the-art Lough Ree Distillery and visitor centre is under way ahead of its official opening in the middle of next year.

  Speaking at the special event to mark the occasion, a very proud Peter Clancy, CEO of Lough Ree Distillery, said: “This is a landmark moment for Lough Ree Distillery and a fitting way to celebrate the occasion. We’re overjoyed at the positive response we’ve received from the local community and we’re excited for our distillery and visitors centre to become an integral part of the Hidden Heartlands tourism offering next year.

  “Sling Shot gin is the first in a long line of spirits that we will be developing over the coming years. The gin market in Ireland and across Europe is growing exponentially and we’re excited to be part of that growth. We look forward to the future and hope that everyone loves our Sling Shot gin as much as we do”.

  The gin is the first in a line of planned Lough Ree Distillery spirits that will include whiskey, vodka, liqueurs, poitín, and fruit spirits.

Lough Ree Distillery’s Sling Shot gin is available for purchase at Longford, Roscommon and Westmeath off-licences as well as the Celtic Whiskey Shop in Dublin. Over the coming months, the gin will become available in off-licences and supermarkets nationwide.

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Feighan and Kerrane react to Budget 2019



Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan hailed Budget 2019 as “fair, progressive and sustainable” on Tuesday.

  “The financial package is designed specifically with Brexit in mind to protect us from the impending withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

  “Budget 2019 will put more money in people’s pockets through four key measures: a reduction in income taxes and the Universal Social Charge, welfare increases for weekly recipients, reductions in the cost of living and pay increases,” he said.

   Meanwhile, Sinn Féin spokesperson Claire Kerrane, has described it as “a Budget for booming banks and vulture funds”.

  “This Budget is the latest step in a vision for Ireland. It is a vision that sees Ireland as a land divided, between elites and the struggling. It sees two sets of rules, those who prosper must always prosper, those who struggle, will always struggle,” she said before adding that there was “nothing in the Budget for renters, Early Years Educators and for people on trolleys and hospital waiting lists”.

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