BY EMMA CONNOLLY
FINE Gael’s election plans for West Cork have been rattled after the shock announcement by junior minister Jim Daly that he will retire from politics at the next election.
Motivated for family reasons, his announcement in a Facebook video caused massive surprise throughout the party, which had already selected the Drinagh man, and Senator Tim Lombard from Minane Bridge, for the Cork South West election ticket.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said earlier this week: ‘We have an excellent candidate already selected in Senator Tim Lombard, and we will build on our last performance in the next election.’
Senator Lombard said the original strategy would have seen him cover the eastern part of the constituency and Deputy Daly the west.
‘None of us had a model for a scenario where Jim Daly wasn’t running. We have to rethink our strategy now and yes, this could leave us exposed to a degree. We’re on the back foot and will have to drive on,’ he said.
Potential running mates already being mentioned at National HQ, he said, are Skibbereen’s Cllr Karen Coakley and third level student and newly-elected Cllr Katie Murphy from Bantry.
He said they ‘ticked the gender and geography boxes’ and would make very capable candidates.
However, he said the national executive might alternatively look to a ‘business or sporting personality’ to select as his running mate.