Speaking to The Munster Express a week after Cllr Mary Butler had exclusively told this newspaper about her intention to run, Cllr Murphy has thrown his hat into a field that’s set to become particularly crowded in Waterford.
“It’s been something I’ve been mulling over for quite some time,” admitted Cllr Murphy (42), who was elected for the first time in the wake of last May’s Local Election.
“Being Deputy Mayor has certainly raised my profile and in the past few months, I’ve become involved with a number of community groups and organisations which you could describe as being outside my comfort zone.
“And I was very surprised that, through those interactions, a few people from arts and culture suggested I should consider seeking a Dáil nomination. So, taking those suggestions into account, along with the counsel of my family of course, I’ve decided to let my name go forward.”
Describing himself as ‘old’ Fianna Fáil (“I’m the fourth generation of my family to have close links to the party; we’re in it since 1926”), Cllr Murphy said he’d taken stock over the past six weeks before deciding to run.
And one suspects a few more names will come forward to seek the Fianna Fáil nomination in what may well prove the most intriguing political party selection throughout the Waterford constituency between now and polling day.
“I would say there’ll be plenty of competition, and I’d welcome that, I think it would be very healthy for the party in Waterford were that to prove the case. Mary’s got her name out there; she’s a great Fianna Fáiler; she’s very community based, she’s got her finger on the pulse, she knows what’s going on and I’d love to see someone like Mary Butler on the ticket.”
He added: “We still don’t know if the party will run two candidates; I suspect they will, so then it may come down to whom Fianna Fáil will consider to be a city candidate; Mary is based in Portlaw and works part-time in the city and may well be considered far enough east to run as the city, as well as the east Waterford candidate.
“And then you consider MJ Ryan in the west, who got such a fantastic result in the Local Election and he also comes from long-standing Fianna Fáil stock, so it’s going to be interesting to see how this will all proceed, so I realise I’ve got to make a very strong case when it comes to becoming a Dáil candidate and that’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.”
Jason Murphy believes Fianna Fáil will face “an uphill battle” when it comes to regaining the seat which Brendan Kenneally lost (albeit narrowly when compared to other outgoing FF deputies).
“I don’t think any of the new Fianna Fáil Councillors, at this moment in time, and I’d probably include MJ who was elected previously, have both a city and county profile, and that is a problem for us,” he admitted.
“Martin Cullen, Brendan Kenneally, Jackie Fahey and Brian Swift all had that cross-Waterford profile, so that’s another part of the challenge for whoever secures the party’s nomination to contest the general election…
“It’s worth noting that Brendan Kenneally got the highest vote among Fianna Fáil candidates in 2011 who were not elected; he got 7,500 first preferences…so while I believe it will be an uphill battle for us in terms of regaining a seat, winning a seat in Waterford is most certainly not out of the question. Far from it.”