Tuesday 18 December 2018

Martin snubbed as Cowen's crew pick 3 for race

Struggle: Three candidates in the running

COWEN loyalists have defied Micheal Martin to select three candidates in the Taoiseach's constituency.

Another local councillor has quit the party and is set to run as an independent after a bitter spat emerged in the wake of Brian Cowen's decision to retire from politics.

Barry Cowen was last night selected by Fianna Fail to contest the election in place of his brother.

He is to be the sole candidate for the party on the Offaly side of the constituency, while two outgoing TDs will run in Laois.

It is understood that party headquarters were insistent that there would only be one candidate in each county.

Mr Martin wanted either John Moloney or Sean Fleming to step aside in Laois but both refused.

Mr Moloney, who was expected to be the sacrificial lamb, said after last night's convention that he was "relieved" to be on the ticket, while Mr Fleming said it "was never really sustainable that one of the TDs would not be selected".

But Cllr John Foley is set to split the party's vote in Offaly by running as an independent.

Prior to the meeting, a delegate told the Herald: "They could be blood on the streets of Tullamore by the end of the night."

Despite being a Fianna Fail representative on Offaly County Council, Mr Foley has fallen out with party colleagues and ignored direct instructions from Micheal Martin.


Mr Martin contacted him on Monday night to try and smooth over the situation but a row ensued with the Edenderry politician setting a deadline of 5pm yesterday for a resolution.

"I spoke with him and pleaded with him," explained Mr Foley.

When he heard nothing more from the party leader, he decided to go rogue and enter the race as an independent.

"I've always been Fianna Fail. I believe the vote was there and I believe we could do very well."

He said that the problem would never have arisen if Brian Cowen was still in charge but the Taoiseach was now "in a difficult position" as he is not party leader.

"They were defeated before they went out on the field and I believe they should have gone out and defended the three seats that were there," he said.

After his selection Barry Cowen, the chairman of Offaly County Council, said that he was determined to defend his brother's seat.

He told 750 delegates in Tullamore that he would reward their trust with "the work rate" and "commitment to prove you right".

The commercial manager of Mullingar Greyhound Track said that he would be able to "connect and engage with the public".

Fianna Fail's woes were added to by the decision of outgoing Limerick TD John Cregan to quit politics.

He was the party's deputy whip and a friend of Brian Cowen but was unhappy after Mr Martin promoted his constituency colleague Niall Collins to his new front bench.


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