Hanafin plus two seek FF nomination for Dún Laoghaire

Internal FF polling shows ex-minister is party’s best chance of taking seat in constituency

Fianna Fáil selection candidates for the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Constituency -  Mary Hanafin (left) Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney pictured prior to their selection convention in Killiney, Co Dublin, September 28th, 2015. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fianna Fáil selection candidates for the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Constituency - Mary Hanafin (left) Cormac Devlin and Kate Feeney pictured prior to their selection convention in Killiney, Co Dublin, September 28th, 2015. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Three candidates including former government minister Mary Hanafin were on Mondaynight seeking the Fianna Fáil nomination to run for the Dáil in the Dún Laoghaire constituency in the next general election.

Party headquarters had instructed the selection convention to choose one candidate only.

The four-seater constituency has effectively been reduced to three seats because the Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett of Fine Gael, is returned to the Dáil automatically.

With 190 Fianna Fáil members eligible to vote at the convention, it was expected local councillor Cormac Devlin would win, with Ms Hanafin coming second ahead of the other nominee, Cllr Kate Feeney.

Internal polling conducted by Fianna Fáil has shown Ms Hanafin represents the best chance of the party taking a seat in this predominantly middle-class constituency.

Several hundred people were in attendance at the convention in Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Killiney.

While it was expected the outcome would be close, Mr Devlin remained the overwhelming favourite to come through.

Reliable party sources told The Irish Times on Monday night a decision on adding an additional candidate would be made very soon, probably “within days”.

If Mr Devlin was selected, there was general expectation Ms Hanafin would be added to the ticket.

However, some believed complications might arise if she was beaten into third place by Ms Feeney, a former leader of Ógra Fhianna Fáil and a daughter of former senator Geraldine Feeney.

In the 2011 general election, the party’s two outgoing TDs, Ms Hanafin and Barry Andrews, both lost their Dáil seats. Neither of the two was willing to stand down despite advice that a one-candidate strategy was the only possible way to retain a seat for the party.

In the event, both candidates finished comparatively close to each other and Ms Hanafin did not gain sufficiently from Mr Andrew’s transfers upon his elimination.

Party strategists believe a two-candidate strategy could work better this time as the dynamic between the candidates will be different and Fianna Fáil is no longer facing a receding tide electorally. It is thought that whichever of the two candidates is eliminated first will transfer heavily to the other.

Fianna Fáil also held a selection convention in Louthon Monday night to choose two candidates for this five-seat constituency. With headquarters having issued a gender quota instruction of one man and one woman on the ticket, the Drogheda-based Emma Coffey was selected automatically.

Declan Breathnach, a candidate in the 2011 general election, was being tipped to win the second slot at the convention.

The sole Fianna Fáil TD in the Louth constituency, Séamus Kirk, recently announced that he would not be seeking reelection.