herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Pick a Dubliner as deputy FF leader, Martin is urged

NEW Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin is being urged to select his deputy from a shortlist of Dublin candidates.

The Cork man's first job as boss of the Government party is to overhaul election strategy and pick the team that will try to prevent a wipeout.

Mr Martin was today talking to colleagues about who to appoint as spokespeople on various policy areas and as deputy leader to replace Mary Coughlan.

Party sources have told the Herald that they would like to see that person come from Dublin as Fianna Fail is facing obliteration in the capital.

"So few seats are safe that it is impossible to be guaranteed that a new deputy leader from Dublin would be returned in the election with the exception of Brian Lenihan," said an FF insider.

However, sources said that Mr Lenihan -- who finished third in the leadership battle -- would not be the preferred option. Other names being tipped for the post include both Dun Laoghaire ministers Mary Hanafin and Barry Andrews and chief whip John Curran.

Ms Hanafin pulled just 10 votes in yesterday's contest but said afterwards that she was ahead of 68 other people in the party because she put her name forward.

If Mr Martin chose her it would maintain a gender balance and also boost her chances of re-election. However, despite the comments from city Fianna Fail members there are no guarantees that the former foreign affairs minister will heed their advice.

He may opt to appoint a deputy from the so-called Ogra FF generation, in which case Labour Affairs Minister Dara Calleary would be favourite.

Within hours of his election Mr Martin attended a meeting of the party's national executive where buoyed members were revising Fianna Fail electoral chances upwards.

"People last night were talking in figures up to 30," said executive member Jerry Beades today.

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland the long-time critic of Brian Cowen added: "In Dublin it's going to be pretty dismal but we've got to make the best out of it. Maybe there is going to be some changes in strategy or in candidates."

He hinted that Mr Martin would even have to consider taking some candidates off constituency tickets in order to save seats.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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