Angry Fianna Fail members to protest party over ballot
A DISGRUNTLED group of Fianna Fail members are today due to stage a protest outside the party's headquarters in a row over candidate selection.
The group, made up of members from the Rathkeale branch in Limerick, claims to have been misled by party headquarters in relation to its local election strategy.
The row centres around Limerick-based barrister Emmet O'Brien, who failed to be selected at a recent convention after a party decision to put forward three candidates prior to any vote.
Party members attended the convention in December with the expectation five candidates would be on the ballot paper.
However, the meeting erupted into chaos after delegates were told three candidates had been pre-selected by the party, leaving a straight contest between Mr O'Brien and sitting councillor Kevin Sheahan.
A number of Mr O'Brien's supporters formed a human chain in a bid to obstruct a party official from leaving the room to count the ballots.
The official was left with no option but to count the votes at the top table of the meeting, chaired by the party's children's spokesman, Robert Troy.
The angry scenes continued after the result was announced, with members claiming it should never have been a contest between just the two candidates.
After the result, Mr O'Brien and his supporters claim to have been told by the party that he would be added to the ticket prior to the election. Party leader Micheal Martin even indicated on 'Newstalk' that the ticket might be altered.
However, it was confirmed on Friday no more additions to the ticket are being made, prompting a furious response from Mr O'Brien's supporters.
Up to a dozen members will picket the Fianna Fail headquarters on Mount Street today to protest the party's handling of the selection process.
"There is no democracy in Fianna Fail and we have been left with no choice but to resort to this picket," the group said.
Mr O'Brien, who is a member of the Fianna Fail national executive, confirmed he will now consider running as an independent.