McDaid says 'no' as Larkin in limbo

Former Dáil Deputy, James McDaid, has turned down an eleventh-hour approach to come in from the political wilderness and allow his name to be added to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Donegal North East.

Former Dáil Deputy, James McDaid, has turned down an eleventh-hour approach to come in from the political wilderness and allow his name to be added to the Fianna Fáil ticket in Donegal North East.

In a dramatic move that has been kept under wraps by high-ranking Fianna Fil party members locally, the former government minister came under intense pressure to join Cllr. Charlie McConalogue in a two-candidate approach in a constituency where the party took two of the three seats in 2007.

Dr. McDaid would not make any comment on the development last evening as he prepared to head off for a two-week holiday in Spain.

"I'm saying nothing until the field is in place," he told the Donegal Democrat.

"But I'm not running," he added.

However, sources close to the Letterkenny-based GP confirmed he had been approached by party headquarters to stand in next month's general election.

Fianna Fil party headquarters had not announced by the time of going to press yesterday whether they would pursue a two-candidate strategy in the constituency.

The field potentially opened up on Sunday, when former Deputy Niall Blaney stunned supporters by announcing that he would not contest the general election. Inishowen-based Cllr. Charlie McConalogue was selected at the party's convention on Sunday night and on Monday, in the wake of Mr. Blaney's decision, Cllr. Dessie Larkin put forward his name for the second nomination.

Cllr. Liam Blaney, brother of Niall Blaney, also issued a statement on Monday, saying he would not seek the nomination and throwing his support to Cllr. Larkin.

A party spokesperson said they were consulting with stakeholders on the possibility of adding a candidate to the Donegal North East ticket. Cllr. Larkin said yesterday that he was told by party headquarters that he was the only candidate they were considering for the second nomination.

Meanwhile, canvassing is now in full swing across Donegal's two constituencies following the dissolution of the 30th Dil on Tuesday.

As of yesterday afternoon, 14 candidates had declared their intention to run in Donegal. In Donegal North East the candidates so far are: sitting TD Joe McHugh (FG), Charlie McConalogue (FF), Pdraig MacLochainn (SF), Jimmy Harte (Lab), John Ryan (FG) and independents Ryan Stewart and Betty Holmes.

In Donegal South West sitting TDs Mary Coughlan (FF), Dinny McGinley (FG) and Pearse Doherty (SF) will be contesting the poll along with Brian Domhnaill (FF), Frank McBrearty Jnr (Lab) and independents Thomas Pringle and Ann Sweeney.

Nominations for candidates close at 12 noon next Wednesday.

In Donegal North East there is set to be significant change with at least two new TDs guaranteed. In a sign of the volatile nature of the political landscape in the constituency, none of the three Fianna Fil candidates who contested the last election will be standing. And the party's two winners - Niall Blaney and Dr. McDaid - who battled it out for the final two seats have withdrawn. The line-up for the election in the constituency has seen further change since Niall Blaney's shock withdrawal on Sunday, with Fine Gael changing its strategy by adding Inishowen-based Cllr. John Ryan as a candidate.

In Donegal South West, Pearse Doherty has had one of the shortest terms of an elected TD, having won his seat on November 26. The Dil has been in session for just 14 days since the Sinn Fin TD was elected.