Fine Gael election row erupts between Meath East candidates

Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee known to have a keen rivalry

Minister for Social Protection  Regina Doherty: known to have a keen rivalry with Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty: known to have a keen rivalry with Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A Fine Gael row has broken out in Meath East between the election teams of ministers Helen McEntee and Regina Doherty as the party scrambles to save seats across the country.

Ms Doherty, the Minister for Social Protection, and Ms McEntee, the Minister of State for European Affairs, are known to have a keen rivalry.

The pair are the two outgoing Fine Gael TDs in the three seat constituency and The Irish Times understands a row has broken out over a constituency divide in recent days.

In the last election Fine Gael took two seats on a combined 35 per cent of first preference votes. Ms Doherty beat Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke for the last seat in the three seater, with Fianna Fáil’s Thomas Byrne the other TD.

Sources in Ms Doherty’s camp say that Ms McEntee’s team have been leafleting and canvassing in areas allocated to them, such as Dunboyne, in recent days.

Sources in Ms McEntee’s campaign claimed that Ms Doherty had broken agreed boundary divisions first by sending leaflets to voters outside her allocated areas a week after the election had been called, among other claimed breaches of the previously agreed deal, such as unauthorised postering.

It is also claimed Ms McEntee had lost 1,200 votes to Cavan-Monaghan in a constituency redraw but had only been given back 320 as part of a Fine Gael constituency strategy.

Although the constituency divide is still officially in operation, local sources said it is being ignored in practice as polling approaches this Saturday.