Fianna Fáil draws up strategy to consolidate Dublin vote

Party is considering putting up one candidate only in Dublin constituencies

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wants selection conventions to begin in October to allow candidates as much time as possible to establish themselves before the next election. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wants selection conventions to begin in October to allow candidates as much time as possible to establish themselves before the next election. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 08:30

Fianna Fáil is considering pursuing a strategy of standing one candidate only in Dublin constituencies in the next general election to consolidate the party’s vote in the capital.

Senior figures acknowledge that the 11 Dublin constituencies pose the biggest challenge for the next election, and the capital will also be the focus of an upcoming membership recruitment drive.

Leader Micheál Martin has already told his parliamentary party it must get serious about preparations for the next general election, with work intensifying once the Dáil resumes in September after its summer recess.

Mr Martin wants selection conventions to begin in October to allow candidates as much time as possible to establish themselves before the election. He has already asked TDs considering not running to notify him of their intentions after the recess.

The Fine Gael-Labour Coalition’s term ends in spring 2016 but Fianna Fáil sources said they must be ready for the possibility that the Government could fall before then.

No capital TDs

Dublin has been a particular problem for Fianna Fáil. It has no TDs in the capital since the death of Brian Lenihan, the former minister for finance and Dublin West deputy.

The party ran two candidates in some constituencies in the capital, such as Dublin North, Dún Laoghaire and Dublin South-West, for the 2011 general election but failed to win a seat in each.

Sources say they do not want to make the same mistakes again.

Senior Fianna Fáil strategists have been meeting in recent weeks to assess the fallout from the local and European elections and plan for a general election, with the initial focus likely to be on selecting candidates.

Tighter ticket

“We haven’t made a call on it yet but of course it is possible,” said a source of a single candidate strategy.

“In a three-seater, a four-seater and a five-seater you need to look at it, the strategy would have to be different in each area. Generally, as a principle, the tighter you have the ticket, the better.

“There are obviously people like Darragh O’Brien [in Dublin Fingal], people like Averil Power [in Dublin Bay North], Deirdre Heney is in there too. I think we need to keep the tickets tight.”

Other party sources said there had been informal discussions on such a strategy, but it would have to be assessed on a constituency-by-constituency basis.

“There is an argument to be made for consolidation,” said another party source. “We had an okay locals in Dublin. If it’s a constituency where we’re at 15 or 16 per cent, then it’s screaming out for one.

“There are others where we are better but you could focus on what is achievable. If you’re talking about returning 11 TDs from 11 constituencies, then I would argue that’d be a very good day.”

The leadership has asked TDs and Senators to carry out assessments of their constituencies. The outcomes are expected to be discussed at the September parliamentary party think-in in Roscommon.

These are likely to focus on the outcome of the local elections, which saw Fianna Fáil become the largest party at local Government level, as well as the “personalities and the people we have in situ”.

“No calls will be made until after that,” said one source.