'Legal threat had no effect on FF selection strategy' says party lead Micheal Martin
FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has insisted that a threat of legal action by councillor Cormac Devlin had no bearing on the party's strategy ahead of tonight's general election selection convention in Dun Laoghaire.
Mr Devlin is being challenged by former minister Mary Hanafin and councillor Kate Feeney for a single place on the Fianna Fail ticket.
The party will later decide whether to add a candidate, depending on its ability to meet the controversial gender quotas.
Senior party figures with a direct role in election strategy last week claimed Ms Hanafin was the preferred candidate - fuelling speculation that a gender diktat would be issued which would prevent Mr Devlin from contesting the convention.
Party sources have likened such a move, which took place in Dublin Central and Dublin South Central, as a form of "gendermandering".
Mr Devlin subsequently met his legal team to discuss if he could legally challenge any such gender diktat.
However, the party announced on Wednesday that it would allow all three candidates to contest the convention.
Speaking at a Sean Lemass commemoration in Dublin yesterday, Mr Martin denied suggestions that the prospect of a legal challenge from Mr Devlin had an impact on the decision.
"Look you are going to get that - It had no impact whatsoever. Absolutely none because we weren't going down that route in this particular constituency," he said.
Speaking at the same event, Mr Devlin said the strategy being taken by the party is the correct one.
"I think it was the only fair position to take in this circumstance, given there is only one candidacy available, which is also a strategy I agree with.
Ms Hanafin yesterday said selection conventions are often more difficult to win than elections.
"The one thing that I have learnt over my life is never to depend on the Fianna Fail selection. It is easier to get elected than to get selected I can tell you that," she said.
But the ex-TD refused to say whether she would accept an offer from the party to be added to the ticket in the event of being unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Ms Feeney said she expects 170 out of a possible 190 members to turn up and vote at the convention.
"I am nervous but I think that it is important that we all rally behind whoever comes through," she told the Herald.