In a shock move this evening, Fianna Fáil TD Niall Blaney has become the latest Dail deputy to announce he will not run in the General Election. He withdrew ahead of tonight's selection convention in Letterkenny, citing 'personal reasons' for his decision.
Mr Blaney was first elected to the Dáil as an Independent Fianna Fail Deputy in 2002, and in 2006, his organisation merged with Fianna Fáil. It was a merger which led to tensions which continue to reverberate in Donegal North East, particularly in Letterkenny.
His decision leaves the way open to Cllr Charlie Mc Conalogue, a former Political Organiser at party headquarters to fight the election for Fianna Fail in the constituency. Cllr Mc Conalogue was the only candidate selected at the convention, with party headquarters now considering whether or not they will add another candidate to the ticket. That possibility will once again attention on Letterkenny, and the possibility of a candidate from the town or its environs being selected in a bid to heal the rift which developed between the 'Blaney' and 'Mc Daid' camps over the past five years.
Cllr Ciaran Brogan, one of Dr James Mc Daid's closest colleagues, who many saw as a prospective candidate withdrew from convention a fortnight ago amid speculation that he would run as an independent. Cllr Dessie Larkin, who traditionally has been close to Deputy Blaney, has also expressed an interest.