Blaney sends statement to meeting
Niall Blaney, Fianna Fil TD, did not attend the Sunday night meeting where his decision not to run was announced.
The party's selection convention had been set for 8 pm at the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny. Earlier that evening, a meeting of Blaney supporters was understood to have been held at the Silver Tassie Hotel, drawing about 100 people. Deputy Blaney's decision was announced at that time, through a statement the deputy sent to be read on his behalf.
Word had begun to leak out by the time party members began gathering at the Mount Errigal for the convention. More than 400 people attended the gathering, with large crowds of Blaney supporters arriving in the hotel function room shortly before the proceedings began.
"They were in shock when they came into that room," said one long-time Fianna Fil activist yesterday.
The media were asked to leave the convention during the selection process. During that time, Deputy Blaney's statement was also read to the selection convention.
Tnaiste Mary Coughlan, TD, said the news was unexpected. Speaking to reporters after the convention, the tnaiste said she had not learned of Deputy Blaney's decision until just before the convention began.
In his statement to the party, Deputy Blaney said it was "with regret" that he had decided not to contest the upcoming General Election "for personal reasons".
"I do not take this decision lightly, but it is a decision that I hope my party and supporters can respect," he said. Deputy Blaney thanked those who nominated, worked and voted for him in his nearly nine years in office.
Inishowen-based Fianna Fil Cllr. Rena Donaghey called the Blaney announcement "an awful pity.
"They say a week is a long time in politics. An hour is a long time in politics," she said.
Fianna Fil Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, reported yesterday to have withdrawn his name for consideration for the second nomination, wished Deputy Blaney well in the future.