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FF lines up ex-TDs to fight next poll battle

FORMER Fianna Fail TDs and senators are being lined up for a run in the local elections as part of a major bid to boost the party's profile.

SENIOR figures in the party have begun devising their 2014 election team, with some familiar names already preparing to challenge for council seats.

As part of a major push to repair its image on the ground, FF bosses have also selected young professionals in a bid to blitz the 18-35 age bracket.

Young solicitors, health professionals and newly graduated students are among those being groomed for the local elections.

One of these 'young guns', south inner city representative Lorraine Clifford, said that she is determined to stand.

"I absolutely want to run. However I'm under no illusion that it's going to be easy. While I am getting a great response on the ground, I know that there can be a big difference when people go the ballot box."

The party is lining up a number of TDs and senators who were victims of the 2011 general election wipe-out.

Ex-ministers Barry Andrews and Sean Connick are two of the highest-profile names linked with a run at the locals.

Former TDs Margaret Conlon and Charlie O'Connor, as well as ex-senators Lisa McDonald and Maria Corrigan are also considering standing.

"In areas where there is no Fianna Fail representation, former office-holders will be throwing their hats in the ring. There will be a significant number put forward but there has to be a balance between the old crop and the new," a senior source explained.

FF leader Micheal Martin has installed ex-minister John Curran as the party's campaign director in Dublin. The former Government chief whip, who is refusing to rule out a return to politics, said that a number of deputies are "considering their options".

"There are a number of deputies who could run again. Naturally it will be up to them to decide what route they take and where they're going.

"I wouldn't rule out former TDs and even ministers making a return at some stage," he told the Herald.

"There will be a considerably different landscape in the 2014 elections -- look at the Dublin constituencies as a result of Phil Hogan's reform measures. Some are growing by 12 seats so Fianna Fail will have to be ready for that."

He went on: "We've made no secret of the work that's being done. So far, some 20 area representatives have been appointed.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of energy and our young people are raring to go."