Sinn Féin Councillor Kathleen Funchion has refuted the claim made by Cllr Pat McKee that he did not approach Sinn Féin about joining the party.
Cllr Funchion said;
“Cllr McKee met me for lunch back in January. At this meeting he clearly expressed his unhappiness with Fianna Fáil and his interest in joining Sinn Féin. While he understood that I would be the Sinn Féin candidate for the forthcoming by election, he did express his desire to run in future elections. Pat even went so far as raising the timing of when he would make the move, suggesting that a time after the by election would be the most appropriate.
“I told him that he was free to make an application to the party.
“I left it up to him. He never followed through. We never chased him up.
“He never formally applied to join.
“Had he been genuine then he would have come back to us and made a formal application to join. That would have started a process that the party has for dealing with applications for members from another party. He didn't so that process didn't take place.
"I didn't spend too much time dwelling on it. I was busy preparing for the launch of my by election campaign and raising two young sons.
“The career intentions of a first time councillor, from another party, wasn't high on my list of priorities to be perfectly honest.
“The important aspect in all of this is the political options now on offer in the by election.
“When the dust settles it will become obvious to the people of Carlow & Kilkenny that they have a clear choice.
“We cannot go back to the stale, directionless politics of Fianna Fáil that ruined the country. The politics of austerity and cuts offered by Fine Gael have destroyed the lives of so many. The regressive, rehashed policies of the PDs represented by Pat McKee and Renua Ireland would only cause further hardship.
“Electing a Sinn Féin TD for this constituency is in the best interests of ordinary people and our communities. This party is fighting for a fair recovery, a better deal for rural Ireland and equality for all our citizens.”