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Paul Healy

Paul Healy

Connaughton leaves FF and declares as an Independent




Ivan Connaughton is officially quitting Fianna Fáil and will run as an Independent candidate in next year’s local elections.

  Cllr. Connaughton, who said last October that he would not be contesting next year’s elections, now says he has changed his mind after coming under “intense pressure” to run as an Independent.

  Formally announcing his decision in the Roscommon People today, Cllr. Connaughton reveals that he ceased being a member of Fianna Fáil earlier in the summer.

  Cllr. Connaughton, who ran for Fianna Fáil in two national elections, says the party has now lost its way. He also says that party leader Micheál Martin is wrong to continue with his ‘confidence and supply’ facilitation of the Fine Gael-led Government.

Declares as  Independent

Speaking to the Roscommon People on Wednesday evening, Cllr. Connaughton said: “I wish to declare as an Independent candidate for South Roscommon in next year’s local elections…I announced earlier this year that I would not run for Fianna Fáil. My views in relation to the party leader (Micheál Martin) are well-known. It’s well-known that I haven’t been happy with the direction the party has been taking”.

  Cllr. Connaughton (36), who had also cited work commitments when announcing that he wouldn’t contest next year’s elections, has now embarked on a new political journey.

  “I genuinely did not intend to run next year. However, over the past six weeks or so, a number of individuals and community groups have approached me. I was asked not to walk away from politics, to reconsider my position. One community activist I spoke to put it this way…he asked ‘Is your issue with Fianna Fáil or is it with the local community and the people?’

  “That made me think. I have reflected on the situation. I am conscious that no candidate has yet declared in my area. I have decided that my community comes first. This area of South Roscommon needs representation. Fianna Fáil cannot provide that, not the way the party has been going. I am totally disaffected with Fianna Fáil’s approach on issues such as agriculture, on rural affairs in general”.

  Ivan Connaughton ran for Fianna Fáil in the 2011 General Election and in the 2014 bye-election. He was elected to Roscommon County Council in 2014. (His father, Martin, had served on the Council from 1999 to 2014). However, in a dramatic interview in the Roscommon People at Christmas 2014, Cllr. Connaughton exposed behind the scenes tensions that had dogged the bye-election bid. In that interview he said that he would not contest a national election again for Fianna Fáil as long as Micheál Martin remained in charge.

  This week, he says: “I have been beating this drum for a number of years. Fianna Fáil have been drifting…away from the party’s grassroots. There are great people in Fianna Fáil in Roscommon, but they have been let down by the leadership and by the handlers”.

‘Not a member’

Cllr. Connaughton said he did not renew his membership of the party when it came up for renewal in June of 2018. As such, while considered a Fianna Fáil councillor still – indeed a Fianna Fáil Cathaoirleach of the Council at present – he sees it in less ‘black and white’ terms.

  “I was elected (for Fianna Fáil) in 2014 but I didn’t rejoin the party last June”.

  Asked if FF HQ, the party organisation locally and/or Deputy Eugene Murphy had sought clarity from him or indeed encouraged him to renew his membership, he said “No”.

   “I deem myself to be elected under a mandate from the people. I have honoured and will continue to honour voting commitments (on the Council) that I entered into. Others can view it (his current status as a councillor) any way they want”.

  Officially he’s a Fianna Fáil councillor, but he argues that it should be obvious to people that he’s not just disaffected, but in fact out on a limb.

 “I didn’t make it public knowledge that I hadn’t rejoined the party. I think anyone observing my public utterance in recent times will know that my views are contrary to Fianna Fáil policy”.

  Will he also contest the next General Election?

  “My focus is on the local elections. As for a General Election, it’s too early to say. Let’s see what happens. Let the people decide, let the people judge me now”.

  So, Ivan Connaughton’s shaky relationship with Fianna Fáil is officially over. He’s officially a Fianna Fáil councillor, but not a ‘signed up’ member of the party. He’s Cathaoirleach of the Council. He was meant to be walking away, but, far from it, he’s going before the people, as an Independent candidate.

  “I am happy that it’s the right decision. I am now free to express my own views. I can be myself”.



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Councillors and candidates voice anger over FF strategy





Burke and Clifford unanimously endorsed at Fianna Fáil meeting


Over 100 people attended the Fianna Fáil Roscommon/Galway CDC in the Abbey Hotel on Monday night and endorsed the original decision of the AGM by reconfirming Padraig Burke as Chairman and Mary Clifford as Secretary.

  The meeting was overseen by Andrew Finn, membership officer of Fianna Fáil HQ. The first part of the meeting was chaired by Larry Brennan.

  Following the recent AGM, a letter of complaint had been lodged with Fianna Fáil HQ. HQ subsequently decided to reconvene the election of the position of chair and secretary. On Monday night, P. Burke and Mary Clifford were both unanimously endorsed, a decision that was accepted by Fianna Fáil HQ.

  Chairman P. Burke then permitted a discussion from the floor in relation to the forthcoming Fianna Fáil selection conventions. Concern was expressed from the floor in relation to the number of candidates being directed by HQ to be selected in the various conventions, with only one candidate being directed for selection in South Roscommon and two in Mid-Roscommon.

  A number of sitting councillors and candidates expressed concern in relation to this issue and it was directed that this message should be conveyed back to headquarters.

  Tributes were paid to Cllr. Rachel Doherty who recently announced that she was stepping down from politics and would not be contesting the forthcoming local elections. Senator Terry Leyden said that Cllr. Doherty would be a major loss to the party while Chairman P. Burke and Secretary Mary Clifford echoed those sentiments.

  Chairman P. Burke said he was delighted to accept the position of chairman and he wished all the best to his fellow committee members including Vice Chairman, Patsy Feehily; Assistant Secretary, Michelle Meeley; Joint Treasurers Mary Pettit and Malachy Hand; PRO Mairead O’Shea; President Tom Hussey and Vice President Paul Lynch. Mr. Burke said he was looking forward to the committee working together as a united team in the year ahead.

  Mary Clifford thanked everyone for their endorsement. She received a round of applause in recognition of being the recent overall winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award in County Roscommon.

  Deputy Eugene Murphy said he was extremely satisfied that the meeting had endorsed the committee which had been selected at the original AGM, which he had chaired. He thanked everyone present. Deputy Murphy said he was delighted with the progress which Fianna Fáil was making in Roscommon/Galway and he stressed the need for unity of purpose.

  “Every phone call or email or person who walks into my constituency office is entitled to be listened to and it is my job as servant of the people to do that. Fianna Fáil is in a healthy position in Roscommon/Galway and we need that in order to hold onto and deliver this seat once again for the party,” concluded Deputy Murphy.



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Tributes paid to ‘inspirational’ Kitty Duignan




There was great sadness throughout the county following news of the sudden and unexpected passing of former Fine Gael councillor Kitty Duignan. Known far and wide, Kitty Duignan was a much-loved lady and a greatly respected community figure.

  Kitty Duignan (nee Murray) passed away peacefully at her residence at Rathallen, Boyle on Friday, 7th of December. She was predeceased by her husband Charlie (also a county councillor) and by their three children – James, Charles and Mary (Mulvey).

  A native of Frenchpark, Kitty Duignan entered politics when she was co-opted on to Roscommon County Council in 1990, after the death of her husband Charlie, then a Fine Gael councillor (first elected in 1967). She was re-elected in the local elections of 1991 and 1999, losing the seat in 2004.

  Paying tribute, Cllr. Liam Callaghan described Kitty Duignan as “an inspiration” and one of the area’s most highly regarded and best-loved characters.

  He said: “Kitty had a large circle of loyal friends and always left an impression on whoever she met. She was a very generous person both with her time and advice. There was always a warm welcome in her home in Rathallen. Time never seemed to matter when you were in Kitty’s company”.

  Cllr. Callaghan described the former councillor as a political genius, an “old-style” practitioner who knew not only individual families but “generations of families”.

  She was, he noted, very proud of the fact that she and her late husband Charlie both served as Chairperson of Roscommon Co. Council.

  Cllr. Callaghan said: “Kitty was a great community person and had a great love for the area and the people she represented. She had great faith and is now reunited with her beloved family”.

  Senator Frank Feighan, expressing his sadness at the news, said that he knew Kitty Duignan for more than thirty years.

  “I had the great honour of being elected alongside her in 1999 to Roscommon County Council in the Boyle electoral area. Kitty was an extremely hard-working councillor. She was compassionate and very well liked by all who knew her and by colleagues from all parties. Kitty will be sadly missed”.

  Extending her sympathy to Kitty Duignan’s family and friends, Senator Maura Hopkins said that Kitty was always keen to encourage young people to have an interest in current affairs.

  “Kitty was a very genuine person whose sole focus was to get on with her work and help others. May she rest in peace”.

  Large crowds attended the funeral services. Reposal at Brady’s Funeral Home, Elphin on Sunday was followed by Removal to St. Attracta’s Church, Ballinameen. Funeral Mass on Monday last was followed by private cremation.

  The late Kitty Duignan is mourned by her son-in-law Paul, grandsons Cathal and James, sister Mary (Pex), brother Eddie, sister-in-law Bernie, further relatives and a large circle of friends. May she rest in peace.


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FF to select just two candidates?




Fianna Fáil members in Roscommon have voiced their dissatisfaction with directives issued by party headquarters to allow just two candidates to be selected for the upcoming local election convention in Mid-Roscommon and just one for the Athlone area.

  There are four candidates seeking election in the Roscommon area and the selection convention will take place this Friday at the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon town: Larry Brennan, Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice, Cllr. Orla Leyden and Marty McDermott are the contenders.

  There are a total of five going forward in the Athlone electoral area: Darragh Glynn, Malachy Hand, Seamus Kelly, Cllr. John Keogh and Sean Mahon.

  At Monday night’s reconvened meeting of the AGM of the Comhairle Dáil Cheanntar councillors and delegates described the decision as “undemocratic” and a party official in attendance was instructed to report this dissatisfaction to party headquarters.

  Meanwhile, Mary Clifford was re-elected unopposed as secretary of the Comhairle Dáil Cheanntar while P. Burke was re-elected unopposed as chairperson (see page 17).



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