Sunday 20 August 2017

FF limits damage of 35-40 seats prediction

Fianna Fail director of elections Billy Kelleher Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail director of elections Billy Kelleher Photo: Tom Burke
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

Fianna Fáil is trying to limit the damage of its own prediction that winning 35-40 seats would be a major victory for the party.

The gaffe has been repeatedly thrown back at the party as evidence it won't be close to forming a government.

The party's director of elections Billy Kelleher described anything more than 35 seats as a major achievement.

"There are 40 constituencies. We aim to be competitive in every constituency. So a figure of that, or around that, would be something that I would consider a very good day for the party," he said in an interview with 'The Irish Times' shortly after his appointment in November.

Under the new Dáil arithmetic, with the number of TDs elected reduced from 166 to 158, a government would need 79 seats to get into office.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is ruling out coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin, leaving his party well short.

But now senior Fianna Fáil figures are claiming Mr Kelleher never actually limited the party to just 40 seats.

The party's Seanad leader and Dublin spokesman Darragh O'Brien said Mr Kelleher was merely asked what would be a good result.

"He never set a ceiling on 35-40 seats," he said.

Mr Kelleher also said Fianna Fáil wanted to be the largest party and wanted to lead the next government, but conceded another period in opposition was likely.

"If we fall short in that ambition, clearly then you are probably in opposition, and we will continue to build," he said in the same interview.

Irish Independent

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