Fitzpatrick backing Coveney in Fine Gael leadership race but O’Dowd supporting Varadkar

Fitzpatrick backing Coveney in Fine Gael leadership race but O’Dowd supporting Varadkar

Local TD Peter Fitzpatrick has thrown his support behind Simon Coveney in the race to become the new Fine Gael leader.

Deputy Fitzpatrick has said that he would be backing the current Housing Minister to succeed Enda Kenny as party leader and Taoiseach, describing him on local radio as “the whole package”.

However, fellow local TD Fergus O’Dowd is set to give his vote to the favourite Leo Varadkar.

In a statement confirming his decision, the Drogheda-based TD said: “I would like to confirm that I will be supporting Leo Varadkar TD in the upcoming Fine Gael leadership contest.

“I made this decision some time ago and I’m confident that Leo Varadkar is the right person who can lead Fine Gael and Ireland into the next generation of politics.

“Leo is a person whom I hold in the highest regard, I believe he has the experience, skill and integrity to provide the leadership our country needs and deserves.

“Leo has the qualities that I believe will bring Fine Gael and our country into a new era of social inclusion and fairness that will be to the benefit of every person throughout the country.

“I look forward to the next fortnight that I hope will reinvigorate the Fine Gael party and it’s members. This is a massive opportunity for us to capture the hearts and minds of the younger generation who have become disenfranchised by the last decade of politics.”

Local councillor Maria Doyle is also supporting the 38-year-old for the party leadership.

The Lis na Dara woman made her declaration in response to an article on Talk of the Town yesterday morning which said that just one local representative had so far declared who they were backing for the Fine Gael top job.

Quoting our article, Cllr Doyle said: “I have a huge amount of respect for both Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar. After much consideration, I have decided that I will be voting for Leo.”

The local schoolteacher becomes the second Louth councillor to throw their support behind the current Minister for Social Protection, with former Louth County Council chair Cllr Oliver Tully also backing him.

Cllr Maria Doyle chatting to Simon Coveney at an event in Darver last year

So far none of the other local Fine Gael representatives – MEP Mairead McGuinness and councillors John McGahon, Colm Markey, Dolories Minogue and Richie Culhane – have publicly declared who they will be supporting in the leadership battle.

The contest will be decided using a weighted voting system across three electoral colleges – the parliamentary party, councillors and party members.

Votes by parliamentary party members (TDs, Senators and MEPs) have more weight than the other colleges. Rank-and-file members are given more voting strength than councillors, but substantially less than the parliamentary party.

The parliamentary party holds the whip hand with 65 per cent of the voting strength, with councillors allocated 10 per cent and rank and file members 25 per cent.

Given that there are 73 members of the parliamentary party at present, each member represents 0.9 per cent of the total electorate.

Meanwhile, Cllr Doyle will host a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the need for better footpaths in the area. Further details can be found here.

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