After a few feverish hours of speculation, Fianna Fail selected Deputies Sean Fleming, John Moloney and Cllr Barry Cowen to contest the general election at its selection convention last Tuesday night week. In a dramatic 48-hours for the party, which saw the resignation of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and the departure of John Foley for Independent life, up to 650 delegates crammed into the Tullamore Court Hotel for the convention.
Standing before convention were Cllrs Barry Cowen and Cllr Peter Ormond and Deputy Sean Fleming and John Moloney. Taoiseach Brian Cowen received a rapturous reception and a standing ovation.
Early speculation held that the party would opt for one candidate from each county, but once John Moloney indicated his desire to stay on, it was now two Laois candidates and one from Offaly who had to be chosen through a ballot. When the results came through it was 92 for Barry Cowen and 62 for Peter Ormond.
Barry Cowen outlined his political background and experience from when he was first co-opted onto Offaly County Council in 1992. He pointed out that he had increased his vote in each subsequent election, easily exceeding quotas.
He recalled his late father Ber and the battle he fought in 1977 attempting to secure the future of Tullamore hospital before going on to say that he would defend Fianna Fail policies, for which he would make no apologies. He also maintained that there are signs of recovery - “we will get up off the floor.” He refuted the allegation that the country was “banjaxed” and accused Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore of “economic treason” for claiming the country was “banjaxed”. Tough decisions had to be made, hard choices, but the party had to put their responsibilities first, he concluded.
This was a sentiment echoed by the two following speakers – Sean Fleming TD and John Moloney TD. The party would have to be courageous and be prepared to take difficult options.
The outgoing Taoiseach gave a lengthy speech in which he spoke about a wide range of topics from the 1916 commemorations to the Northern Ireland peace process and his government’s legacy. “There are people alive in the North today because of what we did, which is a matter of great pride to me.”
Meanwhile, Sean Fleming launched his campaign in theSwan and Durrow last Friday and Saturday nights.
The outgoing Castletown TD asked that Fianna Fail be judged on its record in the local area, citing a number of factors such as school building and extensions. He also vowed to hold public service jobs in Laois.