FG and Labour reject group’s boycott call

A row has erupted between a Fine Gael candidate and the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee, over the committee’s call for a boycott on all Government candidates in the local elections.

The Abbeyleix Fine Gael candidate Jim Ring has said he is “disappointed and shocked” by recent remarks made by Mr Gary O’Keeffe, PRO of the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee of which Mr Ring is also a member.

“To call on the electorate to boycott a member of the Action Committee in the up coming local election is both shocking and extremely offensive to the people of Abbeyleix and surrounding areas,” he said.

“I am wholeheartedly behind the retention and upkeep of the Abbeyleix hospital, which has been clearly demonstrated by my involvement with this committee over the past three years.

“It beggars belief that an attempt is being made to actively encourage voters to ignore one of their own and vote for anybody else basically.”

Mr Ring accused Mr O’Keeffe of performing “a political stunt” geared toward benefiting other Abbeyleix candidates, and he asked the committee to explain how actively campaigning against one of their members is going to further their campaign.

Labour also added their voice to the dispute, with Senator John Whelan saying: “I cannot for the world of me understand at all as to why the Action Committee have at this time chosen to unfairly and unnecessarily target those public representatives who have supported them every inch of the way.”

Mr O’Keeffe defended his position and said the committee is “firmly united”.

He dismissed as “ludicrous” claims that the call for a boycott was to aid any other candidate.

“The elephant in the room though is that, despite calls for a decision and despite the well documented broken promises, no decision is being made. You would have to ask why. While the committee apologises to local candidates who may feel aggrieved at our call, instead of blindly attacking us, tell us exactly what you will do to solve this issue.

“That’s what people want to hear,” Mr O’Keeffe said.


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