Sunday 19 November 2017

FF hopeful calls for no interference in candidate selection

FIANNA Fail general election hopeful Cormac Devlin has warned against "uninformed, outside influences" playing a role in the selection of the party's candidate in the Dun Laoghaire constituency.

In anapparent swipe at Fianna Fáil headquarters, Mr Devlin said the selection process is a matter solely for members.

The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor was responding to a Herald report that Fianna Fáil strategists are hatching a plan aimed at ensuring former minister Mary Hanafin emerges as the party's candidate.

Fianna Fail's strategy in the election is to target the seat currently held by Eamon Gilmore, the former Labour Party leader.

But party bosses are convinced Ms Hanafin is best placed to take a seat - despite previously trying to derail her efforts at making a return to politics.

It's now expected that councillor Jennifer Cuffe will pull out of the selection process, leaving Ms Hanafin to fend off a challenge from Mr Devlin and their council colleague Kate Feeney.

But in a boost to Ms Hanafin, the Herald can reveal that several of Ms Cuffe's supporters are set to support the former minister at convention, a date for which has not been set. Ms Feeney has yet to declare her intentions and is consulting supporters.

Mr Devlin said the convention must not be interfered with. "If Sean Barrett remains in place as Ceann Comhairle, Dún Laoghaire will be a three-seat constituency, in which case a one-candidate strategy would be the only option for Fianna Fáil," Mr Devlin said.

"The candidate selection convention in Dun Laoghaire must be open and fair, free from uninformed outside influences. The best-placed people to select a candidate are the members on the ground who know their communities but who have also worked with the various potential candidates and know who has the best chance of getting the transfers necessary to get elected," he said.

Mr Devlin also suggested that the party has become too obsessed with holding focus groups, and called on headquarters to concentrate more on the members' views.


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