A group of businessmen with strong Longford connections have approached Independent Longford Co Cllr Paul Connell to vie for the late Nicky McFadden’s seat in Longford-Westmeath, the Leader can reveal.
The consortium, comprising up to six in total, held talks with the dual mandate holder and outgoing Mayor of Longford Town Council on Tuesday.
Most of the group live locally, with one understood to be a well known and successful US based entrepreneur.
They wanted Cllr Connell to put his name forward amid growing opinion no Longford based candidate would be standing for election on May 23.
“It came out of the blue really,” said an evidently surprised Cllr Connell. “They were very insistent that I go (for election) and that there was never a better time for a Longford candidate than now.”
The discussions, which Cllr Connell described as being relaxed and largely upbeat, broke down without any agreement being reached.
Cllr Connell said both his age and timing were the mitigating factors in his decision to decline their request, stressing all of his focus in recent weeks had been on this month’s local elections.
“I said to them, look we have got three weeks and would you not go for a younger candidate who could go forward and fight the next election and the election after that?
“They were very persistent and had their homework done,” said Cllr Connell, who also stopped to reveal the group had suggested as many as 14-15,000 first preference votes could be there for the taking.
Cllr Connell added he has not even talked the possibility over with his family, but hinted had the approach come earlier he may well have given a different answer.
“When you get approached like that, the immediate question you ask yourself is why me?”
One of those who led that charge was Moydow based businessman Ronan Quinn. The peat producer and inventor behind the European renowned Quinn Track machine, insisted the group’s approach and offer to Cllr Connell still stood.
“You only have to look at things. We have no one in Longford. Paul is a well got fella in the town and county. What good is anyone in Westmeath to us. If I need anything as a businessman, what addition is Westmeath to someone like me? I just thought Paul would consider it, that’s all.”
Meanwhile, the writ for the Longford-Westmeath by-election will be moved in the Dail later today.