No Fine Gael candidates to stand in UK election, despite push by YFG

Sally Dobie

Fine Gael decided not to run candidates in Northern Ireland for the UK election, despite requests from Young Fine Gael.

A representative of the political party said they have no plans to run candidates in Northern Ireland for the UK election in December, but representatives from the Irish and Northern Irish branches of Young Fine Gael believe the centre-right point of view needs to be represented.

Last week Young Fine Gael sent an open letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asking if Fine Gael had plans to contest the upcoming election, and if the candidates would be committed to taking their seats in Westminster if elected.

The DCU branch of Young Fine Gael said Fine Gael having candidates in Northern Ireland would “represent a revitalisation of the nationalist community”.

“We hope that this will open the way to Fine Gael gaining representation in the governing of Northern Ireland,” they said, “that we can build up our party in the north, and to further our message of constitutional nationalism on the sensitive topic of Irish unity.”

Jude Perry is the chair of the Queen’s University branch of Young Fine Gael in Belfast. He said it is important to represent the people who do not identify with the two prominent parties in Northern Ireland, and Fine Gael could “offer a pro-European, centrist viewpoint”.

He said if the party were to stand in Northern Ireland, they would ensure the Good Friday Agreement was respected during the Brexit negotiations, and hoped if elected they would take their seats in Westminster.

Perry, who joined Young Fine Gael at age 16, stressed the importance of young people being politically active. “I know people under the age of 16 can’t vote but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a say in the way the country is run,” he said. “We’ve seen across the water that decisions made by older generations can definitely impact people of my generation.”

The DCU branch of Young Fine Gael agreed with this sentiment. A spokesperson said they “need young voices to speak on the big issues of our generation and politics is a great way for people to effect change.”

Leo Varadkar was also a member of Young Fine Gael while at college. “I think it shows that if you’re really passionate about making change and engaging in activism for your community then you can rise up to any high office in the land”, said Perry.

Sally Dobie

Image Credit: Jonathon Lynam