Ivan bows out - Connaughton won't contest local elections
South Roscommon councillor Ivan Connaughton has confirmed that he will not contest next year's local elections, but intends to contest an election in the future when there is a change of “direction in the leadership and in the direction” of the Fianna Fáil party.
After months of speculation, the Fianna Fáil Councillor from Athleague issued a statement through social media stating that he took the decision “for many reasons as previously stated (too many to mention)”.
He made the announcement after the party wrote to members and cumainn last week seeking nominations by next Monday, October 22.
He wrote: “I might make a comeback in future when circumstances out of my control change? I do not wish to stand in the way of any other person interested.”
He told the Westmeath Independent: “It is with regret that I am making this decision but it is out of principle. My decision was based 50% on the political situation in Fianna Fail from the past and the other 50% I want to concentrate on my business. My business is growing. I can't be in two places at the one time.”
“I am likely to make a return, with immediate effect, when there is a change of direction in the leadership and in the direction of Fianna Fáil,” he said.
At a meeting of Athlone Municipal District of Roscommon County Council in June, he hinted that he won't be running in next year's elections.
Congratulating Cllr Paddy Kilduff on his forthcoming retirement from the council, Cllr Connaughton said that Cllr Kilduff is retiring, “more than likely like myself”.
Ivan replaced his father Martin, a former mayor of the county, in the local elections four years ago, scooping an impressive 1,414 votes and taking the second seat on the county council on the first count.
He has long had a history in politics and was a key part of his father's local election campaigns since he first took a seat on the council back in 1999.
“The Connaughtons have had representation in this county for 20 years. I hope we have done a good job for this area. A new voice might be no harm.”
He said it was an honour to be elected as Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council earlier this year and he will continue to work for the people during his term of office.
In the aftermath of the last local elections in 2013, Cllr Connaughton told the Westmeath Independent: “I have a passion for politics. I am involved in the community. It gives me great satisfaction when I do something good for somebody.”
Three years ago, in October 2015, Cllr Connaughton called for a clear-out of the party's headquarters. A year earlier, he contested the bye-election when a seat became vacant due to Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's election as an MEP. He topped the poll with 7,334 first preference votes, but eventually lost out to Michael Fitzmaurice (Independent) on transfers. He had previously ran in the Roscommon South Leitrim constituency in the general election in 2011, when he secured 4,070 votes.
In August 2015, Cllr Connaughton said he was considering running as an independent candidate in the 2016 general election, citing his disillusionment with the leader Micheál Martin as the reason.
Then, in October 2015, he hit out at party headquarters over their failure to provide commitments on health services in Roscommon and Galway and criticised their communication skills.
He said that there needed to be a clear-out of party management.
“There is lack of direction from Dublin, no communication whatsoever. I hope there is a clear out of Fianna Fail headquarters after the election,” he said, at the time.
He had requested commitments from the party on re-opening the accident and emergency unit at Roscommon Hospital and re-opening 22 beds which closed at St Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe, but said his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“I got no response back from Fianna Fail,” he said.