Local councillor Patrick McKee has this morning confirmed he has left the Fianna Fail party and will contest the Carlow/Kilkenny by-election as a candidate for Renua Ireland.
Party leader Lucinda Creighton is currently in Kilkenny to officially launch the campaign, with a press conference taking place at Butler House.
Seen as a rising star in Fianna Fail, Cllr McKee’s move has shaken up the by-election race and sent a shockwave through the local political scene. It will also be a significant blow to Fianna Fail party headquarters, where he was highly regarded.
A graduate of Waterford IT and University College Cork, Cllr McKee (26) became the youngest councillor on Kilkenny County Council following victory in last May’s local elections. He was elected leas-cathaoirleach of the county council, and was also selected as chairman of the Joint Policing Committee.
But he became disillusioned with the direction Fianna Fail was taking. At one point, he was threatened with expulsion from the party for voting for a council notice of motion opposing Irish Water.
Locally, it’s believed that he was approached by at least one other political party with a view to recruiting him.
“As a 26-year-old, I am not prepared to just go with the flow,” he told the Kilkenny People.
“I sought public office at a local level to make a difference, but I feel that opportunity doesn’t exist in Fianna Fail. It is too important for people to sit on the sidelines if they feel they have something to offer.”
“In my campaign with Renua, I will focus on job creation, sustainable employment and prioritise reform throughout all public services from health to tackling crime. I will address the abandonment of rural Ireland by tackling the lack of and threat to transport and broadband connectivity which our schools, communities and agriculture so badly need.”