Cllr John Duffy is to step down as a county councillor
Fine Gael party chiefs are priming themselves for a three way fight in north Longford to fill the void left by outgoing Cllr John Duffy.
The Leader can confirm former County Councillor Frank Kilbride, together with Killoe based Longford GAA Leinster Council delegate Gerry Hagan and LCRL’s Gary Murtagh.
All three signalled their intention to contest a Fine Gael selection convention in the Granard Municipal District over the coming weeks.
The first named of those candidates, Mr Kilbride, is no stranger to the local political arena, thanks to a 15 year term as county councillor.
That spell came to an end at the last local elections in 2014, an epoch which coincided in Fine Gael’s relinquishment of power within the confines of Longford County Council.
“Of course I am,” Mr Kilbride stated, when asked by the Leader whether he intended to put his name forward.
In paying tribute to Cllr Duffy, whom he described as “a gentleman” and an “excellent councillor”, Mr Kilbride said there was no doubting his suitability and competency for the role.
In a bid to strengthen his own candidacy, Mr Kilbride questioned the need for Fine Gael party strategists to hold a convention.
“In fairness, there shouldn’t even be one,” he said.
“I should be co-opted on in the normal process because I was the last man standing (in 2014).”
Those calls, are however, likely to fall on deaf ears with both Mr Hagan and Mr Murtagh confirming their own desires to stand.
“I will be putting my hat in the ring,” said Mr Hagan, revealing his decision was sparked by the support he had received from local party members over the past week.
Mr Hagan vowed to bring a strong work ethic to the council chamber should he be successful in succeeding Cllr Duffy.
“I am involved in the GAA and have represented Longford at Leinster level and as county board PRO for seven years.”
His prospective rival for that honour is former Colmcille footballer, turned selector Gary Murtagh.
A Tús supervisor with LCRL, the 42-year-old said he was eager to keep the Fine Gael flag flying in the lead up to next year’s scheduled local elections.
“I’m involved in a good few things in the communities of Colmcille and Aughnacliffe,” said Mr Murtagh.
His duties within an organisation geared towards promoting rural development and combating social exclusion meant he was well versed in meeting the demands of constituents across north Longford and beyond.
“I work with all types of community groups and local organisations on a daily basis from north to south, so I’d have a good understanding of local issues,” he said.
It’s anticipated a date, sometime in March, for a Granard Municipal District Convention to account for Cllr Duffy’s impending resignation, will be confirmed by Fine Gael over the coming days.
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