FF says Hanafin was told she will not be an election candidate

Former minister lodged nomination papers to run in Blackrock area in May 23rd local elections

Party sources said Ms Hanafin was attempting to make a return to politics weeks after calling the performance of Fianna Fáil in Dublin as “brutal”, “appalling” and “awful”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Party sources said Ms Hanafin was attempting to make a return to politics weeks after calling the performance of Fianna Fáil in Dublin as “brutal”, “appalling” and “awful”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Sat, May 3, 2014, 19:40

Fianna Fáil has insisted former education minister Mary Hanafin will not be a candidate for the party in the local elections in Blackrock, Co Dublin, just hours after Ms Hanafin indicated she had lodged nomination papers as a Fianna Fáil candidate.

In a statement issued in response to media inquiries, Fianna Fáil said the party’s national constituency committee “reviews the candidate strategy across the country on an ongoing basis”.

“Following encouraging indicators, the committee decided to explore the possibility of securing two seats in the Blackrock (electoral area). As part of this process, Mary Hanafin agreed to stand as a candidate.

“Following further analysis and following discussions with the existing candidate, the committee met on Friday evening and decided that securing two seats was unlikely and that the party should proceed with its original one candidate strategy,” the statement said.

“Mary Hanafin was informed of that decision on Friday evening in the clearest possible terms and has been made aware that there will be only one Fianna Fáil candidate in the Blackrock LEA, Ógra president Kate Feeney. ”

The statement came after it appeared earlier Ms Hanafin would be making a surprise return to politics, just weeks after she described the performance of Fianna Fáil in Dublin as “brutal”, “appalling” and “awful”.

Ms Hanafin said her nomination papers had been lodged with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to run in the Blackrock ward.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Hanafin said she had been asked to run by Fianna Fáil general secretary Sean Dorgan at a meeting on Wednesday.

Ms Hanafin said the party wanted to ensure it could win two seats in the ward, with 28-year-old Kate Feeney as her running mate.

The former Dún Laoghaire TD said she took a day to make up her mind and told Mr Dorgan she would run on Thursday.

She said she wanted it made clear to Ms Feeney “that it was with the aim of winning two seats - I’m not a dirty player”.

“I have asked Micheál Martin to get Sean Dorgan to sit down with me and Kate and discuss the campaign,” she added.

Efforts were then made to get her nomination papers drafted under the Fianna Fáil name.

However, there was a last minute “wobble” last night when Ms Feeney was informed, as Ms Hanafin asked she was.

Nominations for the local elections closed at noon today, and there was a flurry of activity in party circles in the capital last night.

Sources at the highest levels of the party were insisting as recently as the early hours of this morning that Ms Feeney would be the only candidate.

Ms Hanafin insisted her aim is to win two seats in the ward, as the party had requested her to do.

A proposer handed in Ms Hanafin’s papers today.

Sources close to Ms Hanafin confirmed last night said she was interested in running in the Blackrock ward in Dún Laoghaire County Council, but claimed her efforts were “not quite there yet”.

The party had lined up Ms Feeney as its candidate for the Blackrock electoral area and sources at the highest levels in Fianna Fáil last night insisted she will remain the only candidate in the area.

“No-one is being added to the Blackrock ticket,” one senior source said. “Kate Feeney is the only candidate, (it is a) one person ticket.”

Separate sources in the party last night said a number of candidates threatened to withdraw from running for the local elections if Ms Hanafin was added.

Two weeks ago, Ms Hanafin said she would seek her party’s nomination in Dun Laoghaire at the next general election, having lost her seat in the constituency in 2011.

She would be well-placed to win a council seat in the local elections on May 23rd which would provide a springboard into the Dáil.

She also told RTÉ Radio a fortnight ago opinion polls in the capital for Fianna Fáil were “brutal”, “appalling” and “awful”.

Her comments - echoing those made by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern - caused serious disquiet in the party.

“The opinion polls aren’t exactly in our favour, pretty awful at the moment,” she said, adding that it “doesn’t auger” well for the local and European elections on May 23rd.

Nominations for the local elections closed at midday. Some 1,980 candidates are in the running in 31 council areas, although they may still withdraw their nominations up to Tuesday, May 6th.

Some 579 individuals are running for election as non-party candidates.

Fine Gael will run 460 candidates and Fianna Fáil is running 409. Labour has 184 candidates nominated and Sinn Féin is running 190. A total of 158 candidates are running for other parties, including 39 for People Before Profit and 44 for the Green Party.

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