Friday 18 January 2019

FF feuding may derail Cowen's brother in race to take over seat

BRIAN Cowen's brother is set to contest the General Election despite a local spat.

Sparks are set to fly tonight when Fianna Fail seeks to find a last-minute replacement for the Taoiseach.

A local councillor has threatened to run as an independent in protest at Barry Cowen's nomination.

Cllr Cowen confirmed today that he would be putting his name forward to a convention tonight but said he had "no God-given right" to be selected.

Fianna Fail strategists are insisting the local organisation should select one candidate in Laois and one in Offaly as opposed to the two from each that ran in previous elections.

However, the Herald understands that Edenderry councillor John Foley had a tense phone call with party leader Micheal Martin last night.

Mr Martin indicated that he wants just one candidate in Offaly, with that person likely to be Barry Cowen.

But Cllr Foley, who was originally the only name put forward for selection, has warned that he may go rogue.

"I told him [Mr Martin] it was my view that he was wrong," he said.

The colourful businessman has set a deadline of 5pm for the party to clarify its position.

Laois TD Sean Fleming said that he hoped Cllr Foley would attend tonight's convention and row in behind the party.

He said a decision on the number of candidates "is not yet finalised" as some people feel just two candidates would be "too severe".

Fianna Fail's new spokesman on public sector reform said Mr Cowen's decision not to stand had "changed the political landscape" and the party would have "to reassess where we are in the coming hours".


Commenting on the likelihood that Barry Cowen will run, Mr Fleming said: "He might be a second best but he knows he's not Brian Cowen."

Mr Cowen is the chairman of Offaly County Council and despite being an auctioneer by trade he recently took up a position as commercial manager at Mullingar Greyhound Track.

He said that it would be "a great source of pride and privilege" if he was selected to run.

"I don't feel it should be a baton passed on for the sake of my name," he said.

Cllr Foley is well known in the area and picked up almost 6,000 first preference votes in 2007, just missing out to junior minister John Moloney.

He shot to internet fame in 2009 after falling to the ground while in the background of a live RTE News report.


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