The Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election is believed to be taking place on October 10th next, and the first party candidate out of the traps was Fianna Fail’s Cllr. Ivan Connaughton at the end of July. Last week, he and his party colleagues were assisted in the campaign by their leader Deputy Micheal Martin, who visited the constituency.
Speaking to irishsmokefill, while on the canvass, Deputy Martin said that the party is putting in a significant effort early on with Ivan Connaughton’s canvass.
“I’m struck here by the strength of our councillors on the ground, and I’m thrilled with the interaction our councillors have with communities on the ground,” said the FF leader.
He said that while the party has to build up the ground again in Dublin, with the Dublin South West by-election, the party doesn’t have a seat in Roscommon, and are not taking anything for granted.
Political punters believe the Roscommon/South Leitrim by-election is Fianna Fail’s to lose.
“We didn’t win a seat in Roscommon at the last General Election, so we are fighting to win a seat, and we have a young and energetic candidate here, who is out with councillors who are held in high esteem,” said Deputy Martin.
When asked about what the government should do with the extra €971 million tax-take, the Fianna Fail leader said that first of all the government should so something about school guidance counsellors. He also said that medical cards should be a priority, and they have to stop taking discretionary medical cards.
About the heightened tension in Golan Heights and the involvement of Irish troops there, Deputy Martin said the Minister for Defence needs to speak to the Dail or at least give clarity as to their understanding of the situation.
“Risks are now there as regards the safety and security of our troops, which is our No. 1 priority, but I think the fact that the mandate has changed means we have to give urgent consideration to our participation in any new mandate,” said the Fianna Fail leader. “In terms of any new mission going out to replace the existing mission, we need to be very clear as to what the objectives are, and to make sure that the UN has sufficiently equipped and resourced the mission, that’s very important.”
He said the FF spokesperson on defence, Sean O’Fearghail, has been in touch with the Minister, and that they would like to also get greater clarity from the UN, in terms of the new situation that has emerged.
“It is much different now from what was agreed, and it was a Chapter 6 mission, does it become a Chapter 7 one, which is the difference between peacekeeping and peace enforcement, and these are big issues here which we can’t shirk and we can’t ignore,” said Deputy Martin.
Cllr. Connaughton, is a native of Athleague and represents the Athlone Municipal area of Roscommon County Council. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2011 General Election for Roscommon/South Leitrim, and got 4,070 first preference votes. He was first elected to the council in May 2014. The by-election was caused by Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan winning a seat to the European Parliament, and thereby resigning his Dail seat.