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Member of Fine Gael's first Northern Ireland branch reinstated after controversy


Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Jude Perry with Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Fine Gael has reinstated the founding member of its first Northern Ireland branch after expelling him for paying for Facebook ads to promote his father.

Jude Perry, who set up a branch of Young Fine Gael in Queen's University Belfast, was informed last 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.

He was informed of the party's action via text message from its regional organiser 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.

Fine Gael has now decided to reinstate him, a decision Mr Perry said he will now consider over the next number of weeks.

Mr Perry said he received the news that the membership of both he and his mother Maria had been reinstated via a Whatsapp message from the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The History and Politics student said substantial questions remain following the incident. "I would like to know who made this decision [to expel me] and why was it made," he said.

"Why did cabinet members try to justify my unfair expulsion in the national media and did they know my mother had been expelled without any prior notice?"

Mr Perry said he believed his reputation had been tarnished as a result of the expulsion and called for an apology from Leo Varadkar, the Fine Gael party and the North West Regional Organiser who informed him of his expulsion.

Following his expulsion, Mr Perry said the party had shown a clear lack of a fair hearing and said he was shocked at the lack of due process from a party 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," he said last week.

On Tuesday, a Fine Gael spokesman said the party would not be making any further comment on the issue.

Belfast Telegraph