VERONA WILLING TO GO IT ALONE
MURPHY NOW CONSIDERING RUNNING AS AN INDEPENDENT AS FINE GAEL PARTY DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM CANDIDATE
EMBATTLED Fine Gael candidate Verona Murphy will run as an Independent if Fine Gael decide to remove her from the General Election ticket, sources close to the Ramsgrange woman have said.
Having been chosen to run for the party in April by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar amid much fanfare, Murphy became embroiled in a battle with the media and ended up feeling the wrath of Fine Gael ministers and even the Taoiseach for her comments about young migrants to Ireland being manipulated by Isis, in particular.
She came third in the by-election, losing out on second place to Labour’s George Lawlor by 71 votes. A party source said it would suit deputies Paul Kehoe and Michael D’Arcy Jnr to have Murphy off the ticket.
‘At the moment the media hype is frenzied and relentless. Everybody needs to take a step back and take a deep breath and look at the reality of the situation. It’s clear from her comments on Saturday evening that she absolutely will be running and given the type of character she is, obviously an Independent run is on the table.’
The source said she could raise €50,000 in funding for the campaign in a few days such is the level of support she has, adding that she has been receiving hundreds of messages of support following her defeat in her first election.
‘She got 45 per cent in the New Ross district – three times the Fine Gael vote what Willie Fitzharris and Bridín Murphy got in the Local Elections.
‘She has name recognition. Fine Gael would have to think twice before dumping her in these circumstances where she has proven to be able to get votes. It would be a retrograde step. They need to decide now.
‘ The national executive would want to move with caution. All these storms come and go. Everybody has their moments; it’s no reason to dump a candidate. What Fine Gael should be doing is supporting her rather than leaving her out in the cold.’
MAIN PHOTO: Verona Murphy and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan address the media at the count centre in St Joseph’s Community Centre in Wexford on Saturday. INSET LEFT: newlyelected TD Malcolm Byrne is congratulated by Cllr George Lawlor, who finished in second place. FULL ELECTION COVERAGE: SEE PAGES 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 32, 33, 34