Sitting Fianna Fáil TD, Eugene Murphy, claimed he was disappointed that there was no contest at last Friday night’s selection convention at the Abbey Hotel.
Deputy Murphy was unopposed as he took his place on the ballot paper for the next General Election following the withdrawal of four challengers after Fianna Fáil had confirmed they would be only be selecting one candidate at convention.
Deputy Murphy was in flying form last Friday night as he thanked party members and fellow nominees for rowing in behind him ahead of a potential General Election.
“This is not Eugene Murphy’s seat, this is not Fianna Fáil’s seat, it is the property of the voters of Roscommon/East Galway,” he said.
He will not have had many more comfortable nights during his political career but will know better than anyone that even minor victories are better than the alternative Deputy Dara Calleary alluded to when addressing those present.
“The last time I chaired a selection convention, Eugene came out on the wrong side of it,” the Ballina TD pointed out.
And while Fianna Fáil have pursued a one-candidate strategy in other constituencies, Murphy knows all about the party’s tendency to add a second candidate to the paper before election season kicks off in earnest. Cllr. John Keogh, Cllr. Michael Connolly and Seán Óg Higgins also took the opportunity to confirm their intention to run if selected by party headquarters.
But the combative Strokestown candidate could enjoy his moment as last Friday’s convention became a procession of sorts and he used the event to rally those troops who had turned out for the formalities.
“I would have preferred a contest,” he began, “I always like a bit of cut and thrust”.
He went on to say that his election to the Dáil had been a team effort and how at one stage “200 people were out canvassing” on his behalf.
Deputy Murphy told his supporters that he wanted to “change things in rural Ireland” and highlighted issues such as delays in the National Broadband Plan and the lack of job opportunities in his constituency.
He even called for a return to the Fianna Fáil “glory days” of Terry Leyden. Senator Leyden, who was present, exclaimed: “They’re not over yet!” much to the amusement of party members.
Deputy Murphy spoke with passion and received a boisterous ovation.
On a night when the Fianna Fáil party in this constituency took aim at Fine Gael, it was An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who was on the receiving end of most of the barbs.
Party spokesperson for public expenditure and reform, Dara Calleary TD, questioned Leo’s commitment to the cause when he described him as a “Taoiseach who only puts on a green jersey when it suits him and he has the green socks to match”.
Deputy Calleary then questioned the Government’s decision to spend €5 million on a new communications unit.
“No matter how many million euro they spend, they won’t make him look that good!”
He then brought proceedings to a close with a rallying cry, stating that Fianna Fáil were “in the business of winning elections” and that the party would be ready for a General Election whenever it arrived.
Nevertheless, in the week that it was announced Leo Varadkar had become the most popular Taoiseach since Bertie Ahern, it would seem that despite the vim and vigour at last Friday night’s convention at the Abbey Hotel, it is Deputy Murphy and Fianna Fáil who will need to pull the socks up ahead of any potential election this year. If the last General Election campaign is anything to go by, however, Deputy Eugene Murphy certainly won’t be found wanting when it comes to the legwork involved.