Coonan plans a return to politics

Thursday, 14 September 2017

FORMER FINE GAEL Tipperary TD, Noel Coonan is planning a return to politics and promises to fight for the areas in the north of the county which he feels have been "forgotten about."
“There is nobody lobbying for this end of the county and it's been forgotten about. We need better representation in this end of the county and to remind them in the Dail that we are very much alive in North Tipperary," he told the Tribune this week.
Mr Coonan, who was a surprise casualty of the last general election, tragically lost his wife Pauline Coonan after a long battle with illness a year ago. Pauline, a very respected local Councillor, was a very outspoken member of the now dissolved North Tipperary County Council.
Many people in the northern regions of Tipperary feel the loss of Noel Coonan's representative talents, evidenced by his nomination by the people of Cloughjordan and Lower Ormond to go forward to the Fine Gael Declaration convention which takes place in The Ragg, Thurles on Friday night, September 15.
“When they nominated me I told them I'd consider it and I accepted the nomination and we'll see where we go from there," he confirmed on Monday.
“There are no projects happening at all in the last year in the Roscrea area apart from normal routine maintenance. When Pauline and myself were there it was never like that. I've been talking to Denis Ryan (former Roscrea based FG Cllr) and he told me things have never been as quiet in Roscrea in terms of Council work happening on the ground, despite so much work needing to be done," he said.
Still reeling from the loss of his wife, who described as his "closest friend," Mr Coonan said he feels the time is right to return to work and that it is what Pauline would have wanted him to do - to stand up and fight on.
Pauline, a fighter herself, battled with cancer for many years before her death in October last year and in her career earned a reputation as a very formidable adversary, unafraid to lock horns on the most thorny issues and with a great talent for constructing an articulate and eloquent, but equally scathing and hard-hitting, argument while on her feet and in the throes of political battle.
“She wasn't one for quitting and persevered always on behalf of her constituents," is how she was remembered by Denis Ryan last year - traits that are motivating Noel Coonan's return.
“The irony of the whole thing is that I now find myself with so much time on my hands after my circumstances changed and Pauline passed away. I've accepted this nomination and we'll take it from there and I'm very grateful and feel very positive about getting back to work," he said.
Friday night's Declaration Convention will give each of the eight Tipperary hopefuls an opportunity to put their case forward to the Fine Gael party membership in Tipperary in advance of a selection convention early in 2018 where the party members will decide who to nominate to contest the next general election, whenever it occurs.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other ministers will be in attendance and the night will be a chance for members and supporters to hear from and meet with the eight potential candidates.
The event in the Ragg will kick start the process and will be followed by five candidate husting events in the coming weeks in Roscrea, Carrick On Suir, Tipperary, Nenagh and Clonmel.
Tipperary Fine Gael plan to have the hustings complete prior to Christmas and the selection convention itself held early in the new year.
Noel Coonan joins county councillors Michael Murphy and first Cathaoirleach of the amalgamated Tipperary County Council, Michael Fitzgerald in the battle for the nomination.
Former Fine Gael Minister of State and Tipp TD, Tom Hayes, who was first elected to South Tipperary County Council in 1991 and to the Dail in after topping the poll in the 2001 bye-election, announced on Tuesday he does not intend to enter the race for the party's nomination.
His name had been put forward ahead of the declaration convention on Friday, but the former Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party for almost a decade announced his decision to bow out of politics this week.
The full list of names put forward is Garret Ahern, Noel Coonan, Cllr Michael Fitzgerald, Tom Hayes, Cllr Mary 'Hanna' Hourigan, Shelagh Marshall, Cllr Michael Murphy and Mary Newman.


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