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Fine Gael expels member who founded party's first Northern Ireland branch after he promotes father's Dail bid


Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Fine Gael has expelled the founding member of its first Northern Ireland branch after discovering that he paid for Facebook ads to promote his father, a former Fine Gael minister, in his Dail bid.

Jude Perry, who set up a branch of Young Fine Gael in Queen's University Belfast, was informed this week that his membership had been cancelled and he was being removed from the Fine Gael officer board in Sligo-Leitrim.

Mr Perry, who is currently on a student exchange programme in Washington DC, paid less than €100 to promote seven Facebook posts about his father John Perry's general election campaign in Sligo-Leitrim.

John Perry is a former Fine Gael junior minister who is running for the Dail as an Independent after failing to get on the Fine Gael ticket.

Jude Perry, who studies History and Politics at QUB, was informed of the party's action via text message from its regional organiser on Wednesday evening which said he was in breach of Fine Gael rules and the party had decided to "cease" his membership.

Mr Perry said he received no formal communication from the party.

"As an active member of Fine Gael, and the person who started the first branch of the party in Northern Ireland, I was shocked to receive a text to say I am no longer a member of the party," he said.

"It shows a clear lack of a fair hearing. I was astonished at the lack of due process from a party that is trying to encourage young people into politics.

"The party took issue when Fianna Fail condemned Frances Fitzgerald without a hearing in 2017, and yet it is OK with doing it in this circumstance. I have been targeted and condemned without a hearing."

A Fine Gael spokesman said: "It is incompatible with membership of Fine Gael to be actively engaged in a campaign for another political party or Independent."