FF candidate says she was sabotaged

Wed, May 30, 2007, 01:00

A defeated Fianna Fail election candidate who narrowly failed to take a seat in the Taoiseach's constituency tonight accused party colleagues of sabotaging her campaign.

Mary Fitzpatrick, daughter of outgoing TD Dermot Fitzpatrick, contested the four-seat Dublin Central along with Mr Ahern and his trusted friend Cyprian Brady.

Even though she pulled in more than 1,700 first preference votes, she lost out to Mr Brady who was elected on the eighth count despite only polling 939 first preference votes.

The disgruntled councillor accused the party of undermining her by telling householders to give their preferences to the Taoiseach and his constituency worker Mr Brady when voting.

But Ms Fitzpatrick admitted she had already asked voters in the Taoiseach's heartland to give her their No.1. "I never thought they \[Fianna Fail] were the Legion of Mary," she said. "I never thought they'd do me any favours. I thought my insurance policy was that they needed the second seat.

"So I didn't think they'd go out to completely undermine me and shaft me." On the night before polling day, Ms Fitzpatrick distributed leaflets to households asking people to vote for her as their first preference.

But when the Taoiseach's campaign team heard about her postal sweep, they launched a counter attack and printed 30,000 letters asking voters to put Mr Ahern number one, and Mr Brady number two. The letters were distributed in a three-hour blitz to every home in the constituency from 4am on polling day

Mr Ahern's election agent Chris Wall showed little remorse for the early morning letter drop. "I was out canvassing the night before the election when I had a phone call from home to say a card seeking a number one vote in this area for a particular candidate arrived through my letter box," Mr Wall said. "She \[Mary Fitzpatrick] was asked not to do this sort of thing. "Having then done it, she therefore effectively set in train a motion she wasn't going to be able to stop."

Mr Brady said tonight he would have been elected even if the 30,000 letters had not been sent out by the Taoiseach's campaign team. "I don't think that would have completely galvanised the whole thing. We \[the party] came up with a strategy of three names on the ticket and that is the strategy we stuck with," he said.

"I've been listening for years to people saying Dublin Central is probably the toughest constituency in the country. I wouldn't be there without the second, third or fourth preferences either." Mr Brady described party colleague Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick as a very good councillor but said it was not fair of her to blame others for her failure to get elected.