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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 14°C
John Gilroy via Facebook Labour senator John Gilroy
# Election 2014
'It's not personal': Senator challenging Phil Prendergast for Labour MEP nomination
Labour senator John Gilroy reckons he would have a better chance than incumbent MEP Phil Prendergast of holding the party’s seat in Ireland South.

LABOUR SENATOR JOHN Gilroy is challenging the incumbent MEP Phil Prendergast for the party’s nomination in Ireland South ahead of May’s European elections.

Gilroy, the party’s finance spokesperson in the Seanad, said that while he is “sure Phil is doing her best” he has the support of a number of members of the Labour parliamentary party who approached him about running before Christmas.

“[They] felt that perhaps Phil mightn’t hold the seat and [asked] would I be interested in letting my name go forward. I certainly am. I am based in Cork where a third of the population of the constituency is based,” he told today.

But Prendergast hit back at Gilroy’s claims about support from Labour TDs and Senators, saying: “I don’t think I’d be bothered saying that. If that’s what he has to do, if that makes him feel good then so be it.”

Prendergast said she has the support of “the majority of the Labour Party” including ministers and said she has no difficulty with the competition. She also dismissed suggestions she will run as an independent if she doesn’t get the Labour nomination as “utter rubbish and completely untrue”.

“John is doing what he’s doing for his own reasons. He’s looking at the redrawn boundaries in Cork, all of that. A competition is a competition. I have no problem with that at all,” she said.

Gilroy said he feels he is “best-placed” to take the seat, saying: “My own view that a bit of internal competition is a bit of a good thing for the party. I don’t see it being negative.”

He added: “I know Phil for a great number of years, she’s a fine woman, she’s a good friend and we both understand this is not personal, it’s just politics.”

Prendergast added that she is “a good bit confident” she has the support of the majority of the party and added: “There are very few TDs I haven’t spoken to and that would be for reasons that they won’t speak to me.”

The selection convention for the Labour candidacy in the Ireland South constituency is likely to take place sometime in February.

The party is set to pick just one candidate to run in the expanded four-seat constituency where it will be looking to hold a seat it won with Alan Kelly who took the third and final seat with 12.9 per cent of the vote in 2009.

Prendergast took the seat in 2011 when Kelly vacated it to run for the Dáil where he is now a junior minister.

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