Fine Gael opt for new faces

John Browne has become the latest addition to Longford County Council after being voted to replace outgoing Councillor Alan Mitchell at last Sunday night’s special convention of Longford Fine Gael.

John Browne has become the latest addition to Longford County Council after being voted to replace outgoing Councillor Alan Mitchell at last Sunday night’s special convention of Longford Fine Gael.

The Longford town publican, who has worked behind the scenes for the Longford Fine Gael party for over three decades, defeated current Longford Town councillor James Keogh in the vote held in the Longford Arms Hotel.

In keeping with Fine Gael best practice, the exact count results were not released but it is understood Browne had a comfortable margin of victory.

Denis Hughes was also co-opted unopposed onto Longford Town Council. Having narrowly lost out on a seat in the 2009 elections, Mr Hughes was described as an obvious choice by many of the delegates in attendance.

For Longford Town Council’s newest representative this was a redemption of sorts after losing out so narrowly in 2009. “I was very disappointed, I had given my whole heart to that campaign, and while I was hopeful you can never be too confident in politics.”

While admitting that Alan Mitchell will be a difficult act to follow, and that the first few weeks will be all about “blending in and getting a feel of things”, Cllr Hughes is looking forward to working on enhancing the reputation of Longford town.

After the formalities of the Town Council seat were sorted, supporters and candidates for the Co Council seats made speeches prior to the vote. In his address, Cllr James Keogh said he was not looking for an easy seat. “This is not about who’s entitled to replace Alan Mitchell. There are no entitlements; no one is automatically entitled to anything. This is not about who will hold the seat for two years, but who will retain the seat in the next election.”

John Browne, in asking for support, said: “I have given long service to Fine Gael; I’m not a fair weather supporter. I’ve backed the party when in government and more often when in opposition over the last 30 years.

“This a new challenge for me, in the past I have taken a supporting role and left the limelight to others but now I’m asking to be part of Longford County Council. If you trust in me, I will not let you down.”

Approximately 70 delegates voted and shortly after 9pm, guest Chairperson for the night, Cavan councillor Seán McKiernan announced that Browne had won the election.

A visibly shocked Mr Browne took to the stage for a brief acceptance speech. “I thank each and every one who voted. I sincerely hope to do my utmost serving on Longford County Council. I’m half stuck for words,” he said, pausing, before adding, “Trust I won’t let you down.”

Fine Gael TD James Bannon, speaking on behalf of himself and fellow TD Nicky McFadden, who was in attendance but suffering from bronchitis, wished both councillors well. “Nothing stands still in politics. It has been a year of highs and lows and steady progress. I want to congratulate both Denis and John and commiserate with James Keogh. I have no doubt the people selected are very capable of representing the people of this county.”