Ex-Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Conor Lenihan may run for Europe, saying 'things have moved on'

The Republic of Ireland has 11 seats to fill in the next European Parliament elections in two years' time, and the parties are preparing for the polls.

One of those parties is Fianna Fáil who may put forward former Junior Minister Conor Lenihan.

Mr Lenihan confirmed that he has been talking with senior figures in the party about running for the Dublin constituency where the party has no sitting MEP.

He told the Today with Sean O'Rourke show on RTE Radio One this morning: "I've spoken to senior figures - TDs, councillors, members at every level of the party and I find them to be very encouraging.

"I've received a very positive response on social media, as well as personally people ringing pledging to help me out if I do make this decision."

Mr Lenihan held the Dublin South West constituency for Fianna Fáil from 1997 to 2011 and filled a number of ministerial roles.

Sean O'Rourke then asked Mr Lenihan: "Are you not somebody who is associated with Fianna Fáil's ugly past and all of the bad things that happened that got us into the bailout?"

Mr Lenihan countered by saying that "things have moved on".

He said: "When one looks at the composition of Fianna Fáil's Parliamentary representation today, quite a few of the very distinguished members who sit for Fianna Fáil today in the Dáil are from that period as well.

"It's pointless making that point about myself."

The radio presenter reminded the former Junior Minister of the documentary about the 2011 election where, as O'Rourke put it, Mr Lenihan was "effectively run from the doors of people".

Mr Lenihan said: "We were of course, it was a very angry time and people were rightly annoyed and angry at that time for the very deep and enduring recession and we're still experiencing the bad effects of that."

However, Mr Lenihan did admit that he had not dropped the idea of running for the Dáil again.

He said: "I've alway said to the party eladership and to party members that I am available to run in a General Election if they see fit, but because I've spent the best part of the last five years away, principally in Russia raising investment for a Russian hi-tec project, it's not really entirely feasible or practical, so I'm leaving it entirely to the party to decide if they feel I could fill a gap or if they need candidates."

He also outlined why he wanted to put his name up for the ballot in Dublin.

He said: "Clearly it would be a decision for the leadership and also the ordinary members of the party. I think I can make a contribution clearly.

"I think we've huge challenges as a country where we need real leadership from those that we send to Europe, to represent us, particularly Dublin.

"Dublin has particular problems around housing, tourism and the shortage of social housing where I think there are European solutions."

He described how large German pension funds are used to alleviate the housing problem in Germany.

He said: "There are large pension funds in Germany which invest in social housing and we need to be very focussed on our European relationships."


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