Castlebar Fine Gael to nominate Alan Dillon to party's selection convention in January
THE chairman of the Castlebar Fine Gael executive has confirmed that the name of former Mayo GAA star Alan Dillon will be nominated to the party's selection convention in January as a candidate to run in the next general election in the four-seat Mayo constituency.
John McHugh confirmed to The Connaught Telegraph that he only became aware of the double GAA All-Star's interest last weekend.
He explained: "We have been working hard to identify a candidate and it was made known within the organisation, after Deputy Enda Kenny officially announced his intentions not to go forward for another term, that people had a month to let us know if they were interested in putting their names forward as a Castlebar-based candidate.
"The name of Alan Dillon was brought to our attention by a loyal party member and we became aware of the fact that he had registered online as a member of Fine Gael in Castlebar, where he resides. We met him and matters snowballed from there. Our search for a nominee has ended now.
"We will be putting his name forward to convention next month. We will be introducing Alan at our next meeting in January and will be delighted to have a candidate of his calibre on the ticket."
Mr. McHugh added that no other approaches had been made to potential candidates despite speculation to the contrary.
When speaking to The Connaught Telegraph yesterday, Mr. Dillon said his initial intention was to get involved in the party at a local level but he could not turn down the opportunity to be nominated as a candidate to stand for Fine Gael in the next general election.
"It's an opportunity that does not come around too often," he said.
His uncle-in-law, the late Liam Coady, served as a Fine Gael member of the former Castlebar Town Council for many years.
"I am passionate about politics and I am keen to be involved. I will have more time on my hands now after retiring from the Mayo senior football squad."
Mr. Dillon said he had immense admiration for former Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the manner in which he led the government during a difficult period.
In the likely event of him being selected on a three-strong ticket next month, the prospect of him being co-opted to Mayo County Council cannot be ruled out, according to informed sources.
Senator Paddy Burke, who had been linked with the Castlebar vacancy, said he welcomed the work by the party's election strategy committee to ensure a county town-based candidate will be in the field.
He added he will not be making an annoucement about his own intentions until the date for the convention is announced and the number of candidates to be selected is outlined.