Hanafin ready to battle Ryan for Euro seat
CONTEST: Former ministers will go head to head
TWO heavyweights of the last government are poised to go head-to-head in next summer's European elections.
Former Cabinet ministers Mary Hanafin and Eamon Ryan are lining up to challenge for a seat in the European Parliament.
A Fianna Fail figure close to Ms Hanafin last night said she is ready to "step up her campaign" to secure a place on the party's ticket.
The former education minister is set to be pitted against Green Party leader Eamon Ryan in what is sure to be a hotly contested battle.
Mr Ryan, the former Communications Minister, has already thrown his hat in the ring. Sources close to Ms Hanafin said she is likely to follow in the coming weeks.
"Mary has expressed her strong desire to make a return to politics and she sees a run at Europe as the ideal opportunity for her comeback," a well-placed source said.
The news that Ms Hanafin intends to run is sure to unease the so-called 'new guard' of Fianna Fail who are weary about members of the last government being given the party endorsement.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has been urged to seek new candidates to contest both the local and European contests.
The Herald revealed last month that Mr Martin personally approached GAA star Tony Browne in a bid to get him to contest the local elections in Waterford.
The veteran hurler is "seriously considering" the request, according to party sources. High-profile solicitor John Hennessy is also set to run.
It's believed, however, that Mr Martin is not "overly keen" about selecting Ms Hanafin as the party candidate, but sources have emphasised the lack of options Fianna Fail has in the capital.
"We have no TD in Dublin, let alone an MEP. Who else are we going to run? You hardly expect us to run Bertie," said a source.
Ms Hanafin, who raised eyebrows within the party for her strong criticism of Brian Cowen, is currently abroad preparing her bid.
She has already put out feelers among party figures in Dublin, where Fianna Fail currently has no European seat.
Speaking earlier this year, Ms Hanafin strongly hinted about a return to politics.
"I think I still have something to offer the electorate," she said.
"Despite all that happened in government I think I had a reasonably good record in the portfolios that I held."
Ms Hanafin did not respond to the Herald last night.