PADDY Malone admitted it was a “hard decision” for him to step down as Fine Gael constitutency chairman last week but insists he remains 100pc committed to the party.
The Blackrock man had been an active chairman of the party in this area since succeeding Martin Ward in October 2009. However, before last week’s AGM he announced his decision not to seek re-election for the post, instead opting to put all his focus into his position as President of Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.
Speaking to The Dundalk Democrat about his decision to quit the post, Paddy said: “Of course it was a hard decision, just as it was a hard decision not to put my name in the hat for Jim D’Arcy’s seat when he was elected to the Seanad.
“It was never my intention to be chairman of the party and president of the Chamber but it just happened to fall that way so I carried both.
“I asked myself recently where can I do more good, with the party or with the Chamber, so I reckoned I could do more working as a lobbiest on behalf of Dundalk and my skill sets as an accountant will also be better used in the Chamber.”
Paddy, whose accountancy firm is based in Clanbrassil Street, said he felt he was leaving the party in a better state than he found it though.
“Fine Gael have four Oireachtas members in the county now, whereas we had just one when I took over.
“There’s a new vibrancy in the party now and with Peter here in Dundalk we now have someone representing the north of the county. That wasn’t there before so I believe there’s a better balance now.
“I definitely believe that we’re in a better state now than we were a few years ago. We have more active branches now and more public representatives but we can’t rest on our laurels either.
“I do think I’ve done a fair amount of work over the last couple of years and even though I made it clear I was not running, I still got nominations from a number of branches,” he said.
While Paddy was disappointed not to receive the party’s nomination for the General Election earlier this year, he insisted that had no part to play in his decision to step down as chairman and insisted he was totally committed to Fine Gael.
“I joined Fine Gael in 1973 when I was 17 and since then I’ve had good times and bad times.
“I’ve ran in elections before and lost but no one could say I wasn’t committed to the party. I worked every night during the last election campaign and got soaked on about six occasions.
“I will always remain a card carrying member of the party,” he said.
Paddy also failed to rule out a future bid for the local elections and wished his successor as chairman, PJ Roddy all the best in the role.
“I know PJ will do a good job. He has the enthusiasm and the experience for it.
“If I could give him one piece of advice it would be to go out and get young fresh blood, build up things in DkIT and communicate with the existing members,” he said.