Fianna Fail fears high-profile 'seats wipeout' in capital
FIANNA Fail TDs in Dublin are worried they face a Fine Gael 2002-style wipeout if the party's fortunes do not improve in the capital.
Based on a string of national opinion polls and local polls by the party, a Fianna Fail backbencher told the Irish Independent there are internal fears of them being left with just six seats in Dublin.
The likelihood of this happening is still pretty slim, but Fianna Fail insiders point to Fine Gael's decimation in Dublin in 2002, when the party wound up with just two seats. Fine Gael's worst result on that occasion came in Dun Laoghaire where it lost two seats. The party's sitting TDs retired though, leaving a disjointed ticket in place.
Fianna Fail's line-up in the south county borough will be two cabinet ministers -- Mary Hanafin and Barry Andrews.
Yet there is speculation in Fianna Fail of both of them being high-profile casualties.
Likewise, in a doomsday scenario, double seat losses would be on the cards in Dublin South-West for Conor Lenihan and Charlie O'Connor, and Dublin South-Central for Sean Ardagh and Michael Mulcahy.
The Fianna Fail TDs seen to be set to escape the cull are Finance Minister Brian Lenihan in Dublin West, Government Chief Whip John Curran in Dublin Mid-West, plus one seat in Dublin Central, Dublin North, Dublin North-West and Dublin South.
The Armageddon predictions are still some way off coming to fruition, even with national polls showing the party down as low as 14pc in Dublin.
Fianna Fail will be hoping the presence of sitting TDs and senators will prevent the volatility and competition from a wider range of parties.
But there are plenty of causes for concern for Fianna Fail's prospects in Dublin. The European elections last year left Fianna Fail without an MEP in Dublin for the first time.
And from 44 seats in Dublin's four local authorities before the 2004 local elections, the party now has just 18 councillors.
Also, a report for the party leadership revealed the vast majority of Fianna Fail's local organisation units in Dublin are inactive and exist by name only.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen is planning a revamp of the party organisation in the capital -- nicknamed 'Operation Dublin' by some rural TDs and senators.