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Cathal King
Cathal King
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

U-turn: Favourite for Brian Hayes’s vacant Dáil seat WILL now run in by-election

But Cathal King, who ruled himself out in June, could face competition as Sinn Féin nominates its candidate this weekend.
Aug 26th 2014, 4:27 PM 10,559 70

A SINN FÉIN councillor who withdrew his name from consideration for the Dublin South-West by-election in June has said he will now seek the party’s nomination.

Cathal King, a South Dublin county councillor for over a decade, was widely expected to be the party’s candidate but withdrew his name in June saying the party would be better served by a female candidate. Sinn Féin is hotly-tipped to win the seat vacated by Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes when he was elected to the European Parliament in May.

However King said today that he had come under pressure from within the party, from people his local area of Tallaght and from female councillors who had been in the running and has therefore decided to perform a u-turn.

“I went on holidays, I came back, I started getting a lot of pressure from people within the party and the general area as well,” King told TheJournal.ie today.

“More specifically the women in the local cumann had come to me to asked me to reconsider. They thought I was the best candidate for the job.”

Recently-elected Sinn Féin councillors Sarah Holland and Louise Dunne both gave their strong backing to King when contacted today.

Competition

However another local SF councillor, Máire Devine, said she is considering putting her name forward for the selection convention which takes place on Sunday meaning King could face a competition to win the party’s nomination.

“Nominations aren’t closed until Thursday. I think we’ll know more then,” she told this website today, declining to comment further.

King said he would have nominated Holland and said she could have won the Sinn Féin nomination. But Holland said “it’s not the right time for me”.

“Cathal is so well known in the area. He has a better chance of taking the seat/ I was the one who asked Cathal to put himself back in again,” she said today.

King added that he was reluctant to come back into the race having firmly ruled himself out at the end of June.

“I was very reluctant particularly because of the statement I put out [but] because so many of the women in the area have been encouraging me to put my name back in the ring, that is one of the main reasons.”

He said he did not come under any pressure from the Sinn Féin hierarchy, insisting “that’s not how the party works”.

No date has yet been set for the Dublin South West by-election but legally it must take place before the end of November.

Roscommon-South Leitrim

Meanwhile, it’s looking increasingly likely that Martin Kenny will be the party’s candidate in the Roscommon-South Leitrim by-election, which was triggered by Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s election to Europe in May.

Sinn Féín had also been considering running a female candidate, but it appears the party will opt instead to run the experienced Leitrim councillor, who also ran in the 2011 General Election and narrowly lost out to Matt Carthy in a bid to become an SF MEP candidate last year.

Party strategists will no doubt have been weighing up the impact of the upcoming boundary changes in the area in advance of  settling on Kenny, as the constituency is to be absorbed into Roscommon-Galway and Sligo-Leitrim at the next General Election.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Kenny said there were “a couple of other names being considering” and that he would “leave it up to whatever strategy the party decides on”.

A Sinn Féin selection convention for the constituency is due to be held the week after next in Strokestown.

- additional reporting from Daragh Brophy. 

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Hugh O'Connell

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