THE fate of several sitting Fianna Fáil (FF) councillors hung in the balance this week with crunch talks taking place in Portlaoise yesterday (Monday) evening.
Officials from party headquarters, including general secretary Sean Dorgan, were due to meet with Killeshin’s Laurence Phelan and county councillors Ray Cribbin, Paddy Bracken and Brendan Phelan to discuss their individual positions, with two councillors stating outright that they would run as independents if they were not put on the party ticket.
The quartet failed to be nominated at recent Fianna Fáil conventions in the county for the local elections in May.
The officials were also due to meet with members of the local comhairle Dáil and nominated candidates in O’Loughlin’s Hotel on Monday afternoon.
The meeting will decide whether any candidates will be added to the Graiguecullen/Portarlington and Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick electoral areas.
Portarlington councillor Ray Cribbin said that he would be running regardless of the outcome of the meeting, pointing to his record as a public representative for almost 30 years.
Cllr Cribbin said that he believed it was “unfair” what had taken place in the run-up to the convention.
He said that he was part of a meeting with sitting councillors and FF leader Micheál Martin last year in the Killeshin Hotel. He said that sitting councillors were told that they would not be challenged in putting their names forward.
Cllr Cribbin said councillors were put on the “wrong foot” as a result and did not muster the necessary votes at convention time. He accepted that he would have to resign from the party if he ran as an independent candidate.
FF PRO for Laois and a candidate in the Graiguecullen/Portarlington area, Paschal McEvoy, said that all candidates, including councillors, were notified well in advance that they would go before convention.
In regards to the Killeshin hotel meeting with Micheál Martin, Mr McEvoy said it had been a private meeting and one he was not privy to.
Mr McEvoy said that the meeting in Portlaoise was not unusual and similar meetings would be taking place nationwide.
Cllr Paddy Bracken confirmed to this newspaper that he would be running either way, while Laurence Phelan said that he would abide by headquarters’ decision. Cllr Brendan Phelan said that he would discuss the outcome with family and colleagues before making his decision known.
The outcome is expected to be known in the next few days.