Wednesday 28 June 2017

Five battling for FF by-election nod

McGuinness tipped to contest seat as Lenihans rule out run

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIVE Fianna Fail hopefuls with links to Brian Lenihan have put themselves forward for the party's nomination to contest the Dail seat held by the former Finance Minister.

A surprisingly high number of candidates are looking to hold the party's seat in Dublin West -- the only FF seat in the capital -- against predictions it will be lost.

The selection convention will be held on Tuesday night, and comes after Mr Lenihan's brother Conor and other members of the family ruled out running.

The by-election result will mark the first time in 34 years no Lenihan will hold a seat in Dublin West.

Mr Lenihan's father, Brian Snr, was the TD between 1977 and his death in 1995, with Mr Lenihan winning the subsequent 1996 by-election.

Mr Lenihan's general election running mate David McGuinness (25) is tipped to win the convention and contest the by-election on October 27. The others in contention are:

•Brenda Clifford, a former Fianna Fail councillor for Fingal. She represented the Castleknock area, where Mr Lenihan's operation was also based.

•Edward McManus, who runs a pharmacy in Ballymun. He previously worked as Mr Lenihan's director of elections.

•Barrister Michael Gilvarry, who was Mr Lenihan's election agent in February.

•Solicitor Mary Martin, a local party activist.

Marian Quinlan, Mr Lenihan's constituency secretary, last night said she backed out of contesting at the last minute -- despite being offered support by some in Dublin West.

Nominations for the selection convention closed at 5pm yesterday.

Labour is the favourite to win the seat, with councillor Patrick Nulty hoping to join Social Protection Minister Joan Burton in the Dail. Mr Nulty is on the hard left of Labour and opposed entering coalition with Fine Gael.

Candidate

The Socialist Party is running Ruth Coppinger, Sinn Fein is standing Paul Donnelly, Roderic O'Gorman is the Green Party candidate and Fine Gael is tipped to run Kieran Dennison.

Mr Lenihan won the last of four seats in the general election on the back of what was seen as a strong personal vote.

Despite only polling 623 first preferences, or 1.47pc, Mr McGuinness last night insisted he could win if he got the party nod.

"We ran a strong campaign during the election as a team to get one seat and that's what happened," he said.

"This is a contest to fill the seat held by Brian and any candidate from any party would have to acknowledge who came before them.

"We would hope to run on the strength of our work in the constituency and Brian was known for being very good at that."

Strangely, another Fingal councillor, Mags Murray, was mentioned as a possible FF candidate but she ruled herself out last night for personal reasons -- while stressing how she was the most senior elected party representative in the constituency.

"I would like it to be acknowledged that I am the most senior Fianna Fail representative in Dublin West," she said.

"I have 26 years' experience, I was working 10 years before Brian Lenihan contested the 1996 by-election and since Leo Varadkar was three years old."

FF SHOULDN't contest by-election, alison o'connor, page 22

Irish Independent

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