O’BRIEN TIPPED TO RUN FOR LABOUR
TERRY O’BRIEN MULLS LABOUR RUN HEALY-RAES RULE OUT THIRD CANDIDATE CAHILL CONSIDERING HIS OPTIONS - MAY QUIT FF TEN CANDIDATES HAVE DECLARED SO FAR
LABOUR Party HQ are head-hunting Tralee Councillor Terry O’Brien to represent the party in the General Election.
On Tuesday, a team from party headquarters visited Tralee and met with Cllr O’Brien to offer their ‘strong support’ for a Dáil run, saying they would be ‘more than happy’ to add the long -serving Tralee councillor’s name to the ticket.
With 10 contenders declared so far in Kerry, Labour is the only major party yet to name a candidate in the five seat constituency.
Cllr O’Brien is considering his options. He would not be drawn on his intentions, telling The Kerryman he needed to discuss it with his family first as it’s a ‘huge commitment’.
If Cllr O’Brien rejects Labour’s advances then Tralee Local Election candidate Ben Slimm is understood to be next in line for the nomination.
Meanwhile, the Healy-Rae organisation has categorically ruled out running a third candidate.
When asked if they were planning to put a third family member on the ballot, Michael Healy-Rae said ‘absolutely not’.
Two other south Kerry based candidates are also debating Dáil bids.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Michael Cahill remained undecided on Tuesday night, citing finances and the loss of the party whip as key deciding factors.
Meanwhile, Cllr Michael Gleeson said he is considering running but no decision will be made until the Kerry Independent Alliance meet on Thursday night.
TRALEE Councillor Terry O’Brien is tipped to be the Labour Party candidate in next month’s General Election.
He received the all-important endorsement from Labour Party Head Office on Tuesday morning, quick on the heels of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s declaration that the nation will head to the polls on Saturday, February 8.
O’Brien is considering his options after personnel from Labour Party Head Office visited him on Tuesday morning to offer their ‘strong support’ saying they would be ‘more than happy’ to add O’Brien’s name to the ticket.
However Cllr O’Brien would not be drawn when quizzed on his intentions saying he first needed to discuss it with his family as it’s a ‘huge commitment’.
2019 Labour Party local election candidate, Ben Slimm, is rumoured to be in line for the nomination should O’Brien decline a second Dáil run
Cllr O’Brien contested the General Election for Labour in 2007 but failed to win a seat after receiving 4,287 first preference votes.
It’s thought O’Brien’s candidacy is stronger this time round given he has polled consistently well for the party in local elections at a time when the ‘Labour brand’ is under most pressure with the electorate.
In 2018, O’Brien challenged Labour Party values when criticising leader Brendan Howlin, calling on him to return the party to its ‘core values’ at a time when it languished at three percent in the opinion polls.
O’Brien was one of a number of Labour councillors, nationally, to openly question Howlin’s leadership.
Cllr O’Brien has a solid record in local elections having first been elected to Tralee Town Council in 1999 for Labour.
A former Mayor of Tralee, he topped the poll in town and county elections in 2004 and retained his seat following Labour’s dismal return in the local elections of 2014.
He was elected on the seventh count in the six-seater Tralee Municipal District Election of 2019.
O’Brien is the current Chairman of Tralee Warriors Basketball Club and is employed as the Service Coordinator with the Irish Wheelchair Association in Kerry.
Labour last won back the seat lost by Dick Spring in the 2002 General Election in 2011 when his nephew, Arthur Spring, represented the party.
However, the party seat was lost again in 2016 when the electorate blamed Labour for introducing austerity cuts.
The latest Sunday Times/ Behaviour and Attitudes poll, published in December, 2019, put Labour at six per cent nationally.