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Former TD Kate O'Connell will not run in Dublin Bay South by-election

“It appears that preparations have been made for a long time, that it would be impossible for me to win a convention,” O’Connell said.

Image: Niall Carson

FORMER TD KATE O’Connell has said she won’t be putting her name forward for the Fine Gael nomination in the Dublin Bay South by-election. 

A by-election is due to be held in the coming months in this constituency after former minister Eoghan Murphy announced he would resign his seat. 

Former Fine Gael TD O’Connell said she made clear her intentions to put forward her name for selection as the party candidate in the by-election. 

However, today she announced she would not be going ahead with this. 

Speaking to RTÉ radio’s Today With Claire Byrne, she said: “I’ve spoken to people across the country, people across the constituency, people who have supported me and people who would be in the know.

“And it appears that preparations have been made for a long time, that it would be impossible for me to win a convention.

She said there seems to be many reasons why she was not the “desired” candidate in this by-election. 

O’Connell said she will “of course” stay in Fine Gael, adding that it “wouldn’t be in my nature to stand aside and be silenced in any way”.

She discussed her time as a TD, but said she “wouldn’t see myself as a victim at all”.

“Perhaps there may have been an idea that I served a purpose in taking the seat back from Renua and my job was done, but also over the years I have faced sort of particularly personalised commentary and attacks in terms of attending Fine Gael meetings.”

She said somebody “had actually gone to the effort” of placing a sod of turf in her team member’s bag “and said “she was going to present it to me in front of people” at a party meeting. 

She said things like this might not seem that serious, but “that’s designed to diminish” because she’s “from the country” and not from Dublin Bay South. 

Fine Gael Councillor James Geoghegan has secured the support of the 12 party branches in Dublin Bay South. 

Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail and Fine Gael TD for Meath West said today that he was disappointed O’ Connell is not running.

“I thought she had a chance of winning so it is a pity,” English said.

English said he believed that there was equal support from the party for both Geoghegan and O’Connell to run as candidates.

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Fine Gael party sources state that it was made clear to O’Connell that there was space for her to run as candidate. However, they said a person has to put their name in the hat at the selection convention.

They added that just because 12 branches nominated Geoghegan to be their by-election candidate did not preclude O’Connell from seeking a nomination.

Party sources also denied that it was a gender issue, or that cracks in the relationship between the party leader Leo Varadkar and O’Connell since the Fine Gael leadership contest had anything to do with her not being a candidate in the by-election.

At the moment, the sitting TDs in the area are: Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Sinn Féin’s Chris Andrews, the departing Eoghan Murphy and Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan. 

Ryan was elected on the first count ahead of Andrews last year, with Murphy taking the third seat and O’Callaghan squeezing O’Connell out for the final seat

O’Connell, who is a pharmacist, was not supported by the Fine Gael national executive for a Seanad seat after losing her seat as a TD. 

Labour’s Ivana Bacik is the sole nomination for the party in the by-election, it was announced today. Meanwhile, Lord Mayor of Dublin and Green Party chair Hazel Chu announced this week she is seeking nomination to run.

With additional reporting by Christina Finn

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