CHARLIE Flanagan has been charged with leading Fine Gael’s Presidential campaign, after been appointed National Director of Elections last week. In the wake of Gay Mitchell’s selection as the party’s Presidential candidate last Saturday, Deputy Flanagan is now preparing for a nationwide campaign, in what is seen as a crucial contest for his party.
“I was delighted that Gay Mitchell was elected,” said Deputy Flanagan yesterday (Tuesday). “Our selection convention last Saturday represented a new departure in our democratic process in that Councillors, Town Councillors, and members of the executive council had a vote through an electoral college.
“Gay Mitchell has many fine qualities, he is a politician of experience and substance. He served in the Dail for over 25 years, was a Minister of State and is an MEP. I look forward to leading the charge in what will be a robust and informative national campaign. Gay Mitchell will visit Laois and the midlands, and meet the people.”
Gay Mitchell triumphed last Saturday in a keenly contested selection convention, seeing off Mairead McGuinness and Pat Cox. The initial perception of his candidature is that while he is strong in Dublin, he may be less so around the country. “I accept that perception, but I intend to rebutt it by pointing out the many engagements Gay Mitchell has had outside Dublin,” stated Deputy Flanagan.
“For instance he has a huge interest in the Slieve Blooms, and local and voluntary groups there will testify to that. As Minister of State, he had a positive response to the Slieve Bloom Association 15 years ago in a matter of funding. I recall accompanying him to the Slieve Blooms and meeting local groups and people there. He is a person who embraces both urban and rural.”
The party chairman also added that he was pleased to accept the role of Director of Elections. “Enda Kenny asked to to do the job, and I was pleased to accept.”
Four regional Directors of Elections have also been appointed to support Deputy Flanagan on the campaign; Deputy Joe O’Reilly for Connaught/Ulster, Deputy Jerry Buttimer for Munster, Deputy Damian English for Leinster and Deputy Paschal Donohoe for Dublin.