FF looking at Seán Óg Ó hAilpín as a potential Dáil candidate

Fianna Fáil is eyeing up the former All-Ireland winner as a prospective nominee in Cork

A file photograph of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, who has emerged as a potential Dáil candidate for Fianna Fáil in Cork. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

A file photograph of Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, who has emerged as a potential Dáil candidate for Fianna Fáil in Cork. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Fianna Fáil is eyeing up former All-Ireland winning Cork hurling captain Seán Óg Ó hAilpín as a potential Dáil candidate and running mate for one of the party’s senior TDs.

Sources say Mr Ó hAilpín is a prospective running mate for the party’s health spokesman Billy Kelleher in Cork North-Central.

Members of Micheál Martin’s frontbench are under pressure to bring in extra TDs in their constituencies at the next general election to help Fianna Fáil back into government. Doing so is expected to increase their chances of securing a cabinet position should the party lead the next government, a source said.

Other senior TDs expected to bring in running mates are Timmy Dooley in Clare, Niall Collins in Limerick County, Willie O’Dea in Limerick City, Darragh O’Brien in Dublin Fingal and Robert Troy in Longford-Westmeath.

Mr Ó hAilpín (40) did not return requests for comment but party sources claim he is interested in standing.

However, the views of Mr Kelleher on having such a high profile running mate are likely to be taken into consideration. He polled one of the highest first preference results of any candidate in the 2016 election with 14,286 votes.

At the weekend, Mr Ó hAilpín spoke at a Fianna Fáil commemoration for Seán Moylan, a commander in north Cork during the War of Independence who went on to become a minister in Fianna Fáil administrations.

Mr Ó hAilpín currently works for Ulster Bank and won All-Ireland hurling medals with Cork in 1999, 2004 and 2005, when he was captain.

‘Four seats’

“If Micheál is to become taoiseach, he has to come out of Cork city with four seats,” said a senior TD. “They have three at the moment, and they need the other in Cork North-Central.”

The other party TDs in Cork city are Mr Martin and Michael McGrath, the finance spokesman, in Cork South-Central.

Another being spoken of as a potential Dáil candidate for Fianna Fáil is Justin McAleese, the son of former president Mary McAleese. Party sources believe Mr McAleese is interested in running in Dublin Rathdown, where Fianna Fáil currently has no seat. Mr McAleese has not returned requests for comment.

Previously, senior party figures had viewed Dublin Rathdown, a three-seater, as the least likely prospect for a seat gain in the capital for Fianna Fáil.

Mr McAleese played a prominent role in the same sex-marriage referendum campaign in 2015, when he wrote about his experience of growing up as a gay man. However, he criticised Fianna Fáil’s commitment to campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum.