IT HAS BEEN decided (but it won’t come as much of a shock) that Fianna Fáil’s two candidates to contest the European elections in the Midlands-North West region are… Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher and Meath Senator Thomas Byrne.
The two were selected by more than 600 party members at a convention in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
Gallagher is a sitting MEP and looked fixed from the outset to take a seat.
The final results were:
- Gerry Bridgett – 5 votes (1 per cent)
- Seanán O’ Coistin – 7 votes (1.2 per cent)
- Pat O’ Rourke – 230 votes (41.3 per cent)
- Byrne – 314 votes (56.5 per cent)
Gallagher, who is from Burtonport in Donegal, currently represents the Ireland North West region at the European Parliament.
Senator Byrne, a father of three from east Meath, represented the people of Co Meath in Dáil Éireann between 2007 and 2011. He was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2011, where he is Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Public Expenditure.
Gallagher said he is “extremely proud to represent the Irish people at the European Parliament for a total of 13 years”, adding that it would be a “privilege” to continue in this role.
My key priority is to increase the focus on job creation and growth in the North West and Midlands regions. It is vital that we leverage the funding available in the European Budget to support towns and villages that have not benefited from any recovery. I also believe we need a far greater focus on supporting our SMEs, which are the engine of growth in the Irish economy. Europe must have a strong role in this.
Senator Byrne said that there is now “an opportunity for new voices to renew that European vision and articulate a vision for the future of our country in Europe”.
I believe I have the experience, passion and ideas to be a voice for the Irish people in Europe and I look forward to making my case to the people of the Midlands and North West.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said members have selected a “first rate ticket” for the Midlands-North West constituency.
He described the unanimous selection of Pat the Cope Gallagher as a “fitting tribute to the great work he has done over not just the last five years but also his entire career”.
He described Senator Byrne as “one of our most dynamic representatives and indeed one of the most effective legislators in Leinster House”.