Sunday 23 October 2016

FG selection battle rages as Olivia Mitchell to quit her Dail seat

Olivia Mitchell
Olivia Mitchell
Alan Shatter'

OUTSPOKEN Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell will this week announce her intentions to retire from politics, the Herald has learned.

The Dail veteran is understood to have told party headquarters that she will not defend her seat in the newly-formed Dublin-Rathdown constituency.

It's believed Ms Mitchell will pledge her support for local councillor Neal Richmond, who has previously worked as her parliamentary assistant.

The move will place major focus on the plans of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, who has previously indicated his intentions to contest the election.

Well-placed party sources believe Mr Shatter would be defeated at the upcoming selection convention for a variety of factors - a boundary change that sees a significant proportion of his support base has been lost to Dublin South West among them.

Ms Mitchell, who has formally communicated her decision to party headquarters, did not respond to a request for comment last night.

Cllr Richmond is the favourite to win the convention, which is also being contested by his council colleagues Barry Saul and Josepha Madigan.

One source said that adding Ms Madigan to the ticket, in the event of a Richmond victory, could not be ruled out given the challenges posed by the gender quotas.

But any move not to add Mr Shatter, if he is defeated at convention, could be viewed as being vindictive.

The former minister is isolated within Fine Gael since his shock decision to step down from Cabinet following the publication of the Guerin report into Garda malpractice.

Fine Gael has already faced a scenario whereby Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was added to the ticket in Dublin Bay North after being defeated at the selection convention.

"After setting the precedent with Richard Bruton, we could be accused of adopting a different set of standards in the case of Shatter," said a source.

Dublin-Rathdown will be hotly contested with just three seats up for grabs.

Independent TD Shane Ross is widely expected to top the poll, while Labour minister Alex White will fight to hold on to his seat.

Independent TD Peter Mathews is also likely to run. Fianna Fail has selected senator Mary White, while the deputy leader of the Green Party Catherine Martin is also a candidate. Sinn Fein is fielding Sorcha Nic Cormaic and the People Before Profit's Nicola Curry will also contest.

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