Chamber of Commerce President Paddy Malone the latest to throw his hat in the Fine Gael ring

DUNDALK Chamber of Commerce President Paddy Malone is the latest member of Fine Gael to put his name forward for nomination for the next General Election.

DUNDALK Chamber of Commerce President Paddy Malone is the latest member of Fine Gael to put his name forward for nomination for the next General Election.

The Blackrock man declared his intention to run for a seat in Dil ireann on Monday and told The Dundalk Democrat that he feels he would be as qualified as anyone to represent the people of the constituency on the national stage.

The father-of-two has been a member of Fine Gael since 1973 and is the current constituency chairman. However, despite fulfilling a large variety of roles within the party he has never held the position of a public representative. He now feels though that his background in business, taxation and accountancy can give him the edge as a credible candidate for the people in this area.

He said of his decision to put his name forward for nomination: "I feel that I've the political experience.

"I've been a member of Fine Gael since 1973 and I've filled nearly every position in the party since then. I've done it all with the exception of being a public representative.

"I understand business and feel I have the expertise to be a good representative for the people of this constituency. I'm a tax specialist and I'm a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

"I have been around the block and I've contributed greatly to the Louth Economic Forum. I understand business and I know what is needed."

The father of two also said that his role in Dundalk Chamber of Commerce would help him greatly in any attempt to run for a seat in the Dil.

"My Chamber background gives me a huge advantage," he said.

"I'm well aware of the problems the town and county faces and it was myself and Bill Tosh in our work with the Chamber that highlighted the problem of cross border shopping for the first time.

"I feel we're holding our own at the moment but I want to ensure it stays that way and I feel I can play a big part in that.

"There are a huge number of solicitors and teachers in the Dil but there's not many accountants and people with business experience. In fact, I think Willie O'Dea is the only accountant at present and before him it was Charlie McCreevy.

"There are other good candidates who have put their names forward too, not to take away from anyone, I look at what is there and my own experience and I feel I'm up there with anyone."

Competing with Paddy for the Fine Gael nomination is his fellow Blackrock ward member Jim D'Arcy, and Dundalk Town Councillor Eamonn O'Boyle while Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick and possibly Togher's Colm Markey are also expected to be in the running.

Paddy previously contested the 2009 local elections in the Dundalk West ward but came in fifth in the poll with a tally of 371, a total of 151 votes off Fianna Fil's Sean Bellew, who came in fourth behind poll topper Harry Todd of Sinn Fin, independent Jim Ryan and O'Boyle.

Sitting Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd will be selected by the party as their representative in the south of the county with a provisional date for the convention scheduled for Monday January 24.

l Dundalk Chamber of Commerce President Paddy Malone