McGinley sole Fine Gael
candidate for Donegal South West
BY SUE DOHERTY
Dinny McGinley, TD has been selected for the tenth time as Fine Gael's candidate in Donegal South West in the upcoming general election.
In one of the party's best-ever attended constituency conventions, held at the Highlands Hotel in Glenties, there was resounding support for the veteran, who has served 24 years in opposition and four years in power.
At the beginning of the night, when news spread that the National Executive had directed a one-candidate strategy, it seemed that the convention might be a short-lived affair.
It soon became clear that Cllr. Martin Harley, who had always said he would pull out and back McGinley if a single-candidate strategy were adopted, and Cllr John Meehan both intended to withdraw.
When the business of the convention got underway, Harley told party members: "We're facing into probably one of the most important elections ever, not just for this county but for the entire country. I think it's important that we have a strong voice for Donegal South West in Dublin. I'd love to be there but I feel that my time will come again. I feel we have a candidate in Dinny McGinley who's been there for 28 years, the party's only representative from the county for ten of them."
Next up was Cllr. Meehan. "This election is shaping up to be an event that will transform the landscape of our country. The people, who are the only judges, know that Fianna Fil have consistently put personal and party needs first. They know that we can't fix the banks and the economy unless we fix the jobs crisis. The people also want a just society - a society that respects the dignity of the old and the sick, our pensioners should not have to pay the price for the few who brought the country to its knees.
"I am withdrawing my name from this convention but want to mark people's cards. John Meehan is ready to put on that blue shirt, work for his party, his county and his country."
Any speculation as to Cllr. Barry O'Neill's intentions was put to rest when he told party members that he "was there to put up a fight".
In an impassioned speech, O'Neill told the party faithful that, after "an extraordinary week in politics, it is clear that this government is not fit to serve and the people are once again looking to Fine Gael to restore the country to its rightful status. Fine Gael will ensure that wrongs are put right, restore the farming sector and once thriving fishing communities, provide universal health care, undertake serious political reform and help young people find employment.
He argued that the party "must look to the future" and "we must make change happen tonight." He added: "Politics is uncompromising. We have been directed by the National Executive that one seat is realistic. We have over one quote of the vote but don't take it for granted. Let it be one person and let's get behind that person. Ladies and Gentlemen, you decide."
Dinny McGinley TD told party members that Fine Gael now faces "a huge challenge - to restore political life in this country and to restore the economy" after Fianna Fil's "tragic and pathetic legacy".
He added: "There is going to be a change of government. We want more. We want a government that the people can trust. If given the chance, I am sure and confident that we can come up to their expectations. I will lead you to that new dawn, to that new horizon, with the policies that the people of Ireland have come to expect.
"Everyone of you can participate in this campaign, which is more than just a general election campaign. It's a sort of crusade, a kind of pilgrimage. Use every minute. There are people who will promise anything but have the answers to nothing. We have the answers."
Joe McHugh TD, said he was sure that the "well-oiled party machine that was so much in evidence during the by-election will be out in force in support of Dinny McGinley. Change is needed. People do not just want different faces in government, they want us to change how we do business here. We are sick and tired of facililating the mass exodus to Australia."