Contest now inevitable for late Cllr Sean McEniff’s Donegal County Council seat

Michael Daly

Reporter:

Michael Daly

Email:

michael.daly@donegaldemocrat.com

Contest now inevitable for late  Cllr Sean McEniff’s Donegal County Council seat

Elizabeth McIntyre looks certain now to face a contest to fill her late father's council seat.

The daughter of the late Sean McEniff will face a contest to take the Donegal County Council seat held by her late father for over 50 years when Fianna Fáil gather in July to select a replacement.

Many had felt once the McEniff family declared an interest in retaining the seat by way of co-option that they would enjoy a clear run. However, this now is definitely not the case, with at least two others confirming or hinting they will contest the position along with Elizabeth McIntyre (nee McEniff), a former Bundoran Town Councillor.

As previously reported by the Donegal Democrat, Elizabeth McIntyre has accepted the nomination of her home cumann in Bundoran to seek the seat. Reacting to confirmation that there would be a contest, Ms McIntyre said she didn’t think she had an automatic right to the seat, but  was “disappointed” to learn there would be opposition to her co-option.

The Democrat has learned that at least three others may also be seeking the votes of some 200 party faithful in the Donegal Municipal District who are eligible to vote.

The Democrat can confirm that Billy Grimes, Ballyshannon, a former Ballyshannon Town Commissioner and Town Councillor, is giving approaches to run “strong consideration” while Michéal Naughton, who lives in Laghey, has declared his intention to seek election.

A fourth candidate from the Dunkineely area, who we as yet haven’t spoken to, is also understood to be interested in running. In the absence of being unable to speak directly to this person, we are not naming this fourth possible contender.

Billy Grimes told the Democrat yesterday that he’s interested in seeking the nomination: “I have been approached by several people to see if I would consider running and I am giving that strong consideration.”

A mayor of Ballyshannon two occasions, Mr Grimes ran for the county council on a shared platform with the late Cllr McEniff, failing narrowly to take a second Fianna Fáil seat. He added: “I was keen to run at the next election but withdrew before convention to ensure the safety of the seat for the party.”

Meanwhile, Michéal Naughton (pictured above) was very clear when asked if he was running: “There’s no secret here, I told Elizabeth that if she was unopposed, I wouldn’t run against her. But there are several people running, and for that reason I am also putting my name in the hat. I will be letting my name go forward.”

Mr Naughton, a group hotel manager with the McGettigan Group in Letterkenny, ran in the 2014 county council election on the Fianna Fáil ticket, securing some 600 first preference votes.


“Disappointed”

Reacting, Elizabeth McIntyre told the Democrat: “I am disappointed to learn there will be opposition to this. Don’t misunderstand me, I accept that that’s democracy and people have the right to contest. I don’t see this as automatic as a McEniff seat, not at all. This is a co-option following the death of my father who served for over 50 years.

“I thought they would have shown more respect on this occasion, this is for a two year period as there will be local elections in two years’ time.

“It’s not as if I am someone new to politics, I have served for 16 years as a local representative. Yes, I’m disappointed to learn about this in terms of my father’s legacy, but I had been hearing all sorts of speculation. So it’s out there now and we will meet that head on at the convention.”

It's understood nominations close on June 23rd and approximately 200 Fianna Fáil members from Glencolcmille to Bundoran are eligible to vote. The selection convention itself is due to be held in July.