Fitzpatrick keeps everyone guessing on Fine Gael - Louth boss performs dramatic U-turn after pulling out

LOUTH manager Peter Fitzpatrick continues to keep everyone guessing as to whether or not he will seek a Fine Gael nomination for the General Election at their upcoming convention on Thursday January 27.

LOUTH manager Peter Fitzpatrick continues to keep everyone guessing as to whether or not he will seek a Fine Gael nomination for the General Election at their upcoming convention on Thursday January 27.

Having been approached by the party before Christmas, the father of three has delayed his decision for several weeks as he weighed up the prospect of letting his name go forward for a potential challenge for a seat in the Dil.

It looked like Fitzpatrick had made up his mind on Tuesday morning when he issued a statement to the local media saying he was "honoured" to be asked to consider seeking a nomination by Fine Gael but could not accept it "for personal reasons and my involvement with Louth GAA."

The Belfry Gardens man then went on to thank the party and wished them well in their election campaign.

However, within a couple of hours of him releasing his statement, Fitzpatrick performed a dramatic U-turn and remains undecided once more about his plans.

He told The Dundalk Democrat before lunchtime on Tuesday: "I'm thinking about it again.

"The amount of calls I've received since announcing my decision is unreal. I can't believe the amount of support I had. It's a big decision and I am still thinking about it."

Fitzpatrick doesn't have much time to make his mind up though with all nominations having to be with the constituency secretary by this Friday evening ahead of the convention the following Thursday in the Fairways Hotel.

Already in the running for nomination are sitting TD Fergus O'Dowd, Louth County Councillors Colm Markey, Finnan McCoy and Jim D'Arcy, Dundalk Town Councillor Eamonn O'Boyle and constituency chairman Paddy Malone - best known for his position as president of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.

Fine Gael headquarters have yet to determine whether the party will be running two or three candidates in the constituency. It had been originally hoped to run three but it has been speculated that this may revert to two should Fitzpatrick be given the party's backing.

Meanwhile, Cllr Eamonn O'Boyle was formally declared a convention nominee at the AGM of the Fine Gael North Ward Dundalk Branch on Friday night in the Redeemer Family Resource Centre.

The following branch officers were also elected at the meeting: Colm McKevitt (Ard Easmuinn); Vice-Chairperson & PRO: Claire Faughey (Demesne Road); Secretary: Christina O'Boyle (Ard Easmuinn), Treasurer: Patricia Barry (Rockmount Gardens) and Branch Organiser: Cindy Moore (Dublin Road).

l Peter Fitzpatrick