Comer: ‘It would’ve been good for Fianna Fail to bring in an outsider’

Dairy farmer and former president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) John Comer has been unsuccessful in getting on the Fianna Fail ticket for the upcoming European elections.

One of seven candidates vying for the position of Fianna Fail candidate for the Midlands-North West constituency, Comer came third, behind: former TD Niall Blaney; and current TD and former minister for agriculture Brendan Smith – who went on to top the polls at the vote.

The Fianna Fail convention took place all day and into the night on Friday (March 15) in Longford.

The results saw Smith take 859 first preference votes, later raised to 873 votes after eliminations; Blaney took 596 first votes, raised to 605; Comer took 267, upped to 281; and current TD Anne Rabbitte received 174, increased to 179.

Speaking after the vote, Comer told AgriLand: “It didn’t go my way and that’s life. I felt I had something to offer; it’s difficult to get through a selection convention with delegates when you don’t have a big strong pedigree in the party.

“I have no regrets about going, I am still going to keep as active as I can in terms of representation for people. I’m happy I did it, I’ve no animosity towards anyone at all and I’m still happy I went forward.”

The former farm leader noted that, when not established politically, it can be difficult to get people to travel long distances from the west to Longford to cast a vote on a bank holiday weekend.

“You need a party machine behind you and I didn’t really have a party machine behind me.

“But I’m not blaming anyone; maybe I should have done better, but it didn’t happen on this occasion.

I thought I’d be a little closer but there is a massive void there now; you have the whole of Connacht and north Ulster and west Ulster without any representation at all.

“That’s a huge geography there where there is no Fianna Fail person on the ticket currently as we speak,” Comer said, warning that, down the line, this could mean the party might lose “a big swathe of that vote”.

“I would have thought it would have been good for the party to bring in someone that doesn’t have a long history in the party and that could bring in a new dynamic – someone from the outside, rather than going back to the same names all the time.

“So, I would have a tinge of disappointment for the party’s sake and personally.

“But, ultimately, it was a free and fair election,” Comer concluded.