Updated: 14/01/11 : 08:09:53
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Sligo's Scanlon Returned To Fianna Fáil Whip

Sligo/Nth Leitrim TD, Eamon Scanlon, was last night re-admitted to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. The anticipated move came just days after his constituency colleague, Dr Jimmy Devins announced his intention to retire from the national political scene by not seeking re-election at the forthcoming general election.

The two Sligo-based deputies had resigned the party whip last year (Aug) over the government's stance on the cancer services controversial move from Sligo General Hospital to University College Hospital Galway.

However Save Sligo Cancer Services campaigners have maintained that the Fianna Fáil duo were part of the problem by voting with the government on the matter. The campaigners have also maintained that the resignations from the parliamentary party was just an empty cosmetic exercise designed to try and placate the electorate. Their claim may be borne out by the fact that neither TD has abstained or voted against the government on any motion since their 'dissident' role was established.

Now that the bond of solidarity between Scanlon and Devins has been broken by the latter's proposed resignation, the time was right for Scanlon's return to the party fold. He has always maintained that he would return to the parliamentary party 'at some time'.

As he emerged from the party meeting last night, Mr Scanlon found himself surrounded by a number of journalists eager for information on the Cowen stand against the rebels within the party. He had to embarrassingly admit to them that prior to his reinstatement he was not allowed to attend the meeting.

Sligo's Fianna Fáil organisation have yet to fix a date for a selection convention to decide on who will join Deputy Scanlon on the party ticket for the general election. The election is now expected to take place in March, after the St Patrick's Day celebrations and visits by ministers to various locations worldwide.

Three names have gained prominence in the race to be selected however neither, Senator Marc MacSharry, Cllr Jude Devins or Cllr Joe Queenan have publicly declared their candidacy. The strongest hint of inclusion, to date, has come from Sligo County and Borough councillor Jude Devins.

Meanwhile a demonstaration is scheduled to place outside Deputy Scanlon's Ballymote constituency office tomorrow, Sat 15 Jan, at noon. It will be held by members of the Workers Alliance who have recently being protesting outside the offices of Dr Devins.