No sign Mary Hanafin will withdraw nomination
‘I am an officially nominated candidate in the Blackrock ward,’ says former Fianna Fáil TD
Mary Hanafin: “I am an officially nominated candidate in the Blackrock ward.” Photograph: Frank Miller
Fianna Fáil has said it “fully expects” former education minister Mary Hanafin to withdraw her nomination papers to run in the local elections but there was no indication last night she would stand down.
“The current situation is they asked [me to run],” Ms Hanafin replied when asked about withdrawing from the campaign in the Blackrock ward in south county Dublin, where Ógra Fianna Fáil president Kate Feeney had originally been selected as the sole candidate.
Party sources said a poll conducted in the last two weeks suggested Fianna Fáil could win two seats there and Ms Hanafin was seen as the obvious person to approach. Party general secretary Seán Dorgan contacted Ms Hanafin on Wednesday about running.
However, a meeting of the national constituencies committee, chaired by Cork North- West TD Michael Moynihan, which makes the final decision candidate selection, decided on Friday evening that, on balance, it was not worth the risk and that they might “cannibalise” Ms Feeney’s vote.
The party sources insisted there were “no dirty tricks” involved in the process. When the final decision was made, Ms Hanafin was told there would be one candidate – Ms Feeney. The former minister “was given the relevant paperwork on the basis of trust, on the basis that the final decision would be made by national constituencies committee”.
Ms Hanafin said, however: “They asked me last Wednesday to run and gave me my party affiliation certificate on Friday.”
The certificate allowing a candidate to run can be signed by the party’s general secretary only.
“I am an officially nominated candidate in the Blackrock ward”, the former minister said. She has until has until noon tomorrow to withdraw.
She said the day after Mr Dorgan approached her about running she agreed to go forward, but insisted the party had to speak to Ms Feeney first and explain.
“They made a hames of that by leaving it so late and, naturally, she was upset. But the research had shown, they said, a second candidate was needed. I lodged those nomination papers even though there was a big wobbly the night before and then they didn’t want to add, but I was given all the nomination papers on Friday at their request,” she said.
Ms Feeney said she believed there was only one seat in Blackrock: “I was told on Friday they were considering running two and I gave them my opinion and I stand by it. Since then the decision was confirmed to me they were going with the one-candidate strategy.”
A Fianna Fáil spokesman said last night “our full expectation” is Ms Hanafin will withdraw her nomination papers.
He added: “Mary is a very loyal party person.”