Fianna Fáil reviewing slate of general election candidates

Micheál Martin tells front bench local and European election results to shape selections

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: Told his senior TDs that the results in the elections would dictate the shape of candidate selection strategy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: Told his senior TDs that the results in the elections would dictate the shape of candidate selection strategy. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told his front bench the party would be taking a fresh look at general election candidates in light of local and European election results.

Like most other parties, Fianna Fáil selected its slate of candidates for the general election at an early stage in the expectation that the Government would not last beyond the three years of the confidence and supply agreement.

At the front-bench meeting on Tuesday Mr Martin told his senior TDs that the results in the elections would dictate the shape of candidate selection strategy as the party finalises its line-up for the general election. That could lead to candidates being added in some constituencies.

The case of Malcolm Byrne has been instanced by many Fianna Fáil TDs. Mr Byrne, a councillor from Gorey, is not a general election candidate. The two chosen in the five-seat Wexford constituency are sitting TD James Browne and Wexford-based Lisa McDonald.

However, Mr Byrne’s strong showing in the European parliamentary elections now puts him in the position of front runner to be his party’s candidate in the byelection for the seat vacated by Mick Wallace. If he is chosen, there is a likelihood he could be added to the party ticket for the general election.

Party sources said on Thursday there is an outside chance Fianna Fáil could take three seats in Wexford in a general election, where it held a dominant position at time before its fortunes declined in 2011. In areas where the party has two candidates selected, and little prospect of a third seat, the general election ticket will remain unaffected. Such is the case in Dublin Fingal where Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee is likely to be the byelection candidate.

There are only three constituencies where Fianna Fáil has yet to hold a selection convention. They are: Cork North Central, Galway West and Dublin Rathdown.

Best performers

Newly elected MEP Billy Kelleher was the Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central so there is no candidate selected there. The best performers in the local elections were Kenneth O’Flynn and Tom Fitzgerald.

Several party activists have privately mentioned Séamus McGrath, a brother of finance spokesman Michael McGrath, as a possible candidate for the byelection. He polled the highest number of first preferences in the country, with 4,247 in Carrigaline, in the neighbouring constituency of Cork South Central. Senior party sources have said there is no prospect of him moving constituency to stand in a byelection.

In Galway West, the party has yet to select running mates for Éamon Ó Cuív. The party has no TD in Dublin Rathdown. Justin McAleese was seen as a possible candidate but withdrew his interest last year.

The party’s former press director, Olivia Buckley, stood in the local elections but narrowly missed out on winning a seat. Former candidate Shay Brennan retained his council seat and is seen by some in the constituency as the front runner.