Fianna Fáil’s General Election preparations took another step forward tonight, as the party’s first candidate was selected at a packed convention in Limerick County.

More than 300 members gathered in the Dunraven Arms Hotel in Adare for the selection convention chaired by Billy Kelleher TD.  Sitting TD and the party’s Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins was the choice of members.

Deputy Collins commented, “Much has been said and much has been written about the last election, but I genuinely believe that the next election, the General Election that we could find ourselves fighting at any stage over the next 12 months, is the most important election for the country in generations.

“On the one hand we will have a delusional and discredited Government clapping itself on the back for the great job it has done, while on the other we will have a collection of the hard left and hard right making promises they cannot keep and trying to foster division and resentment.

“In the context we are facing, the role of Fianna Fáil has never been more important.  Families in Limerick County don’t feel any recovery.  Instead, they feel only an ever tightening squeeze on their resources.  They watch as our children bear the brunt of cuts and listen to a Government that simply doesn’t get it.

“Fianna Fáil stands for equality and opportunity.  The Fianna Fáil plan for Ireland in 2016 will be about promoting enterprise and returning fairness to the centre of public policy.  This Government has lost the faith of the people because it was elected on the basis of lies and abandoned the core principle of fairness that always informed Fianna Fáil decisions, even in the worst of times.

“In Limerick County, our families and our communities feel under siege.  They have endured austerity and they have given all they can give.  They watch a Government whose only focus is rewarding the wealthiest at the expense of service quality and the lower paid and they despair.  My vow tonight is to work to give our communities hope.  We will not be making any promises we cannot keep in this election campaign, but we will be setting out our vision for our country.

“The Taoiseach’s vision – for Ireland to be the best little country in the world to do business – offers nothing for communities.  Yes, we support enterprise and will be working to transform our SME sector, but our country is about more than the economy.  Fianna Fáil understands that better than anyone else and I look forward to making that case across our newly enlarged constituency.”

Deputy Collins also paid tribute to his opponent Cllr Eddie Ryan and the Fianna Fáil organisation in Limerick County.  He commented, “Eddie and I ran a respectful and professional campaign.  We treated this process with the seriousness it deserves and I now look forward to working with the entire organisation in this constituency to bring our message to every voter and every community.”