All eyes will be on Sligo Leitrim Fine Gael convention next week

Fine Gael’s Sligo/Leitrim constituency selection on July 19th is likely to be one of the most watched in the country.

It is, after all, the constituency in which an outgoing junior minister challenged the party over its choice of candidates in the last general election.

No one knows when the general election will be — but Fine Gael in Sligo/Leitrim has already thrown up a surprise.

It was the decision of former Leitrim councillor John McCartin not to seek a nomination — a development that came hot on the heels of the announcement of outgoing Deputy Tony McLoughlin not to seek a return to the Dail.

Now, all eyes will again be on the likely directive from Fine Gael headquarters about selecting candidates in the constituency.

And that will not be known until just before the convention starts.

No decision has yet been made on any directive — but speculation is mounting on whether there will be one in relation to geography . . . or gender.

If there is a gender directive, it would mean automatic selection for the deputy mayor of Sligo, Cllr Sinead Maguire, the only woman seeking a nomination.

And then there’s the question of a possible directive in relation to where candidates are based.

Ocean FM News understands the constitency strategy committee favours the selection of two candidates, one for the Sligo/South Donegal area, preferably based in Sligo town.

The other candidate would be for Leitrim/North Roscommon, preferably based in south Leitrim.

And there’s the question of maybe a third candidate being added later.

Any directives would, of course, favour some of the nine candidates, which would put the noses of others, and their supporters, out of joint.

And there’s also the issue of the constituency’s 1,100 delegates eager to have their say in choosing the person they wish to support.

Although no decisions have yet been made, one thing is clear; the party will be eager to avoid the fallout from the last convention in Drumshanbo, an outcome that eventually ended up in the courts, resulting in much cost and much adverse publicity.

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