Monday 24 April 2017

Bertie's brother Maurice is FF candidate ahead of June poll

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern shares a joke with defeated by-election candidate Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, his brother Cllr Maurice Ahern and Cllr Tom Stafford, who withdrew from the election during the Fianna Fail meeting at the Skylon Hotel in Dublin
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern shares a joke with defeated by-election candidate Cllr Mary Fitzpatrick, his brother Cllr Maurice Ahern and Cllr Tom Stafford, who withdrew from the election during the Fianna Fail meeting at the Skylon Hotel in Dublin

Sam Smyth

Maurice Ahern was declared the Fianna Fail candidate for the Dublin Central by-election last night after defeating rival Mary Fitzpatrick following a bitter contest and a decisive vote.

The older brother of the former Taoiseach was elated as he emerged from the meeting after a comprehensive victory over Dublin City Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick.

Dublin City Councillor Tom Stafford had earlier dramatically withdrawn as a candidate leaving a winner-takes-all showdown between Maurice Ahern and Mary Fitzpatrick.

Mr Ahern won on a vote of 64 to 17 for Ms Fitzpatrick.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern chaired the meeting in the Skylon hotel in Drumcondra where some 80 delegates voted.

Maurice Ahern (70) described the victory as "a great relief".

Defeated candidate Mary Fitzpatrick, the daughter of Dr Dermot Fitzpatrick, a former Fianna Fail TD for Dublin Central, did not appear surprised by the result.

Congratulated

She said: "I congratulated Maurice Ahern on his selection and although some might say the result was inevitable I want to say I am honoured to have been nominated for selection."

Ms Fitzpatrick has had a long-running battle with Bertie Ahern's constituency organisation in Dublin Central that culminated in bitter exchanges when she was defeated in the 2007 general election.

Dublin City Councillor Tom Stafford surprised delegates when he stepped down as a candidate before they voted.

Later, supporters of Ms Fitzpatrick said they were not surprised when Mr Stafford withdrew and left it a head-to-head battle between the older man and the younger woman.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arrived after the delegates met to vote and was among the first to congratulate his older brother.

But many believe a more important meeting took place 24 hours earlier in St Luke's, the party headquarters in Dublin Central, when Bertie Ahern hosted a meeting for his ward bosses.

Gloomy

One source at the meeting on Tuesday night said around 30 people turned up and that the former Taoiseach said he hoped they would support his brother Maurice in last night's vote.

Privately Bertie Ahern has been very gloomy about Fianna Fail's prospects of winning in Dublin Central.

"Bertie could only get 44pc of the first preferences in the general election when the party was soaring in the polls," said one Fianna Fail election worker. "And Maurice is not Bertie and Fianna Fail is more unpopular now than ever I can remember."

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