Offaly Fine Gael Cllrs, John Clendennen, Noel Cribbin, Liam Quinn and Neil Feighery, pictured with new Fine Gael leader, Simon Harris, at the party's Midlands North West European Selection Convention in Athlone yesterday afternoon (Sunday).

Offaly Fine Gael Councillors welcome new party leader

Offaly Fine Gael Councillors were out in force in Athlone yesterday (Sunday) to show their support for the new Finel Gael leader, Simon Harris, following an eventul week for the party with the resignation of Leo Varadkar as party leader.

Mr. Harris was officially announced as the new Fine Gael party leader at the Midlands North West European Selection Convention in Athlone, where Maria Walsh MEP and Nina Carbery were selected to contest the upcoming European election.

In his inaugural speech as leader, Simon Harris committed to a new directional pathway for Fine Gael as a party, but also to forming a strong working relationship with coalition partners Fianna Fáil and The Green Party for the remainder of their term in government.

"Under my leadership, Fine Gael stands for supporting businesses, especially small businesses and making work pay. Fine Gael stands for supporting education and educational pathways for all - to ensure equality of opportunity is not a slogan but is a value that is woven through everything we do", stated Minister Harris.

He also outlined his commitment to balanced regional development and to those in rural Ireland. Among the other issues he address was law and order and he vowed to "take our flag back" after the Tricolour was recently used at convicted Garda killer's funeral.

"Fine Gael stands for supporting the family farm and helping farmers to transition to meet the challenges of food security and climate change, Fine Gael believes we need now to move from an emergency response to the migration crisis to a more planned, sustainable model, to a fair and firm system when it comes to migration", continued Minister Harris.

He also said Fine Gael stands as a "proudly pro-European party" and a party that will work with all parties across this island to embed prosperity and peace, and to harness the potential of the all-island economy. He also called for "an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate release of all hostages, an end to violence in the Middle East and a political process to bring about a two state solution".

Speaking after the event in Athlone, the four Offaly Fine Gael Councillors, John Clendennen, Noel Cribbin, Liam Quinn and Neil Feighery collectively agreed there was a renewed sense of energy about the party with elections on the horizon" and, along with Hughie Egan from Ferbane, who is also a candidate, they pledged to engage in a vigorous campaign over the next ten weeks to hopefully be returned to Offaly County Council after the locals elections scheduled for June 7.