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Hanafin 'absolutely determined' to beat rival to party ticket

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Mary Hanafin

Mary Hanafin

Mary Hanafin

THE rivalry between former minister Mary Hanafin and party colleague Kate Feeney is set to reignite as the pair compete for a place on the Fianna Fail ticket ahead of the upcoming general election.

Ms Hanafin said she is "absolutely determined" to contest the Dun Laoghaire constituency on behalf of Fianna Fail despite her candidacy being fervently opposed by many senior party figures.

It appears only three seats are up for grabs because Dun Laoghaire is the constituency of sitting Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, who is not obliged to contest the election.

While Mr Barrett says he is considering whether to resign as chairman of the Dail, party sources do not believe he will ahead of the election.

The other sitting TDs in Dun Laoghaire are Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Labour backbencher and former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance.

Fianna Fail lost both of its TDs here - Ms Hanafin and Barry Andrews - as part of the party's electoral wipe-out in 2011.

But its selection convention, due to be held in the coming weeks, is now likely to be contested by at least four candidates.

Ms Hanafin and Ms Feeney will be joined on the ballot paper by sitting councillors Cormac Devlin and Jennifer Cuffe, according to party sources.

crazy

Speaking to the Herald, Ms Hanafin said she strongly believes a one-candidate strategy in the general election is the party's only option.

"People forget sometimes that Fianna Fail has no seat in Dublin - it would be absolutely crazy to run two seats," she said.

"When you take into account that we are contesting a three-seater effectively because of the presence of the Ceann Comhairle, this can be our only option.

"Our strategy has to be based on winning a seat, and that will require fielding the best candidate."

The news comes as it emerged that an internal Fianna Fail document states that the party should be running 20 to 27 female candidates nationwide at the next general election.

The so-called Markievicz Commission report expresses concern about the challenge facing the party in meeting the new rules governing gender quotas. All parties must ensure that at least 30pc of their candidates at the next election are female.

The issue is proving challenging for a number of parties, especially Fine Gael.

noconnor@herald.ie