Cllr Michael Fitzgerald, one of the front runners for Fine Gael, pictured with his family.
Selection Convention, with seven candidates on the ballot paper, will be held in Thurles on March 4th.
Smarting from having lost two seats in the last General Election and not having any political representation in Dail Eireann at the present time, Fine Gael in Tipperary are bidding to be ahead of the political curve by being the first to hold their Selection Convention, with March 4th the date in question.
An extensive and at times exhaustive hustings will conclude with the seven declared candidates vying to win the nomination. The Convention will be held in the Premier Hall and there are over 900 members of Fine Gael in Tipperary who will be entitled to vote. It is anticipated that the Selection Convention will be one of the biggest ever as it will be the first one held by the party since the reunification of Tipperary.
Former TD Noel Coonan - the only FG candidate from the former North Tipperary County Council area.
The Fine Gael National Executive gave the go ahead on Saturday for the Selection Convention and constituency Chairperson Lucy McCormack said she was happy with the progress being made – “We now have a date for our convention in just a few weeks. It is an exciting time as the contest so far has been very keenly fought and the five hustings we held generated a lot of interest and debate but it is time now for the members in the county to make their decision as to who they want to put forward.
“We are not sure how many will attend but we expect given the interest it could be in the region of 1,000 people. Each member will be getting a notification letter in the coming weeks with all the exact details. The seven declared candidates are – Garret Ahearne, Noel Coonan, Cllr Michael Fitzgerald, Cllr Mary Hanna Hourigan, Sheelagh Marshall, Cllr Michael Murphy and Mary Newman.
Former Deputy Noel Coonan is the only nominee from the old North Tipperary constituency and could have a big geographical advantage over the others. However, Cllrs Michael Fitzgerald and Michael Murphy are regarded as front runners with the very highly regarded and experienced campaigner Cllr Fitzgerald, who acted with great skill and diplomacy, as the first Chairman of Tipperary County Council being tipped by many as the man to win the nomination. It is likely that National Executive will add a second candidate to the ticket following the Selection Convention and gender balance could well play a part in this nomination.
The Labour Party has already nominated sitting Deputy Alan Kelly and the National Executive will decide on the date of the Selection Convention in due course.
Meanwhile, nominations opened this week for Fianna Fail and will remain open for 2/3 weeks. The 1,300 delegates will vote at the end of February.
Sinn Fein will also hold their Seletion Convention at the end of February following a special Ard Fheis on February 10th. The Comhairle Ceanntar held their AGM on Sunday in Cashel and are appealing a gender balance mandate at the special Ard Fheis.