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Upton to Resign in next General Election

By Aoife Mulford.

Mary Upton has been a prominent face in the Dublin South Central area since her election in a by-election of 1999. She was re-elected in 2002 and was appointed spokesperson for agriculture and food.

Upton successfully contested the 2007 general election, polling over 12 per cent of the first preference votes.

Arguments are already brewing in relation to Mary’s nephew, Henry Upton, who has yet to confirm or deny whether he will run in the next election. It is clear that even if Henry earns his place on the ticket, it will be looked upon as favouritism or nepotism.

Henry is the son of former TD Pat Upton. Upton died suddenly in 1999, leaving his place in the Dáil open for his sister Mary, who won the seat in 1999 and has held the position since.

“Yes, now my nephew is interested in running too but can I just say in relation to that, I have a real issue with the way journalists pursue that so-called nepotism or ‘dynasty’ program,” said Mary Upton.

“Should somebody be excluded from putting their name forward in a democratic organisation just because they carry a certain surname or they’re related to somebody?” she asked.

“It is a decision for the electorate and believe me if the electorate like your name but don’t like what you do, they’re not going to vote for you, but the name is certainly an advantage, there’s no question about that,” Upton continued.

Labour’s selection committee had put forward their candidate suggestions for the next general election prior to Mary Upton’s announcement. The candidates chosen for Dublin South central were Mary Upton, Eric Byrne and Michael Conaghan but now Mary’s decision has left one place vacant, meaning the whole selection process has to begin again.

Now that the selection committee are back to the beginning, questions are being asked about why Mary left it so long to make her feelings known.  

As a result of Upton’s decision, Cllr. Byrne will be fighting to win back his seat in the Dáil.

Tensions were high in Cllr. Byrne’s camp as Upton’s decision resulted in an upheaval in his planned election campaign.

“The selection committee has recommended that three people stand on the ticket; that’s myself, Michael Conaghan (who has represented Ballyfermot on Dublin City Council since 1991) and Upton, but now with Mary’s sudden resignation, it’s causing a little bit of confusion,” said Cllr. Byrne.

“The situation is that the selection committee has to interview me again and it’s requesting renewed nominations from anyone wishing to express an interest in standing as a candidate,” he continued.

“It was only myself and Michael Conaghan who expressed a wish to stand and now the whole thing has been reopened, not just Mary’s place as I suggested,” he said.

Cllr. Byrne is worried about what shape the ticket will take now that Upton has removed herself form the process at a key stage.

“If there are two people who express an interest in the final seat – for example Henry, with a name, a very strong name, an attractive name, and if a woman should be forthcoming, then should they stand four candidates?

“Or do they drop one of us, Conaghan or myself and go for three? We recommended that they only open up one position, for Mary’s place but they have opened the whole process up and myself and Conaghan will have to re-interview. Everything is up for grabs at this point in time,” said Cllr. Byrne.

The lack of female representation in the Dáil has been highlighted once again in the past number of weeks. Mary Upton has become the second Labour TD to announce that she won’t be standing in the next general election.

This news comes shortly after fellow Labour TD Liz McManus announced her plans to step down after the next general election and a few weeks after Fine Gael’s Olwyn Enright announced that she would be leaving politics to care for her children.

This would mean that Rebecca Moynihan would stand a good chance of winning a seat on the ticket if she chose to put herself forward.

Moynihan won a 16 per cent share of first preference votes in the Dublin City Council elections last year. Moynihan did not put herself forward for the first selection committee as, according to her it was evident that the ticket would be filled by the mature “experienced” candidates.

Now with Mary’s unexpected decision, it is all still to play for. She has proven herself as a worthy candidate and she also helps to boost the female to male ratio.

Little has changed between the Upton and Byrne camps; at times the relationship was described as poisonous but with recent developments, bitterness and resentment are at an all time high.

Cllr. Byrne does not want to be beaten for a second time by an Upton. “Henry is young and he doesn’t have the experience his aunt had but his name is popular,” he said.

Cllr. Byrne will be hoping that Rebecca Moynihan will slot in nicely into Mary’s vacant spot.

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