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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured today. Sasko Lazarov
Election fever

Varadkar says there are 'huge numbers' of people who want to be Fine Gael election candidates

Since the 2020 election, over a quarter of Fine Gael’s TDs have said they will not contest the next election.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has defended Fine Gael and said the party is “energised” ahead of the upcoming European and local elections. 

Over the last few months, nine Fine Gael TDs have announced that they will not be contesting the next general election. 

This represents a quarter of the party’s 33 TDs who were elected in 2020.

The Taoiseach said today while there are “lots of people” who aren’t running for the Dáil again there are “huge numbers of people who want to be Fine Gael candidates”.

Varadkar noted that three candidates sought the party’s nomination for the Dublin seat in the upcoming European elections, with Senator Regina Doherty, a former minister, ultimately receiving the party’s backing at the weekend. 

Other contenders in the selection process were Junior Minister in the Department of Education Josepha Madigan and Senator Barry Ward.

Madigan, who received public backing from Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and was widely seen as Fine Gael headquarters’ preferred candidate, came last in the vote. 

Her performance adds to questions for Fine Gael about the party’s future and leadership ahead of the next election. 

Defending the flurry of departures announced by Fine Gael TDs, Varadkar has previously said there are multiple reasons why someone may choose not to run for re-election, and that it is “normal” within any political party.

Earlier this month, Wexford TD Paul Kehoe became the last member of Fine Gael to announce that he would not contest the next election.

The 51-year-old told supporters at the Wexford Fine Gael Constituency AGM that while it had been a difficult decision to make, he felt that “now is the right time for me and my family”. 

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