Thursday 22 June 2017

'No love lost' between Ahern and the favourite to succeed him

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2006 with (left) Sean Gallagher, managing director of Smarthomes and star of 'Dragon's Den', and then Foreign
Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern. Photo: Maxwells
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 2006 with (left) Sean Gallagher, managing director of Smarthomes and star of 'Dragon's Den', and then Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern. Photo: Maxwells

Fionnan Sheahan and  Nicola Anderson

The businessman is considering seeking the Fianna Fail nomination in Louth following Mr Ahern's announcement of his retirement.

Mr Gallagher masterminded the vote management strategy at the last general election in the constituency, which saw Mr Ahern's vote kept down to ensure Fianna Fail TD Seamus Kirk got elected.

Despite Mr Ahern's high profile, Mr Kirk actually finished ahead of him on the first count in 2007.

Mr Ahern claimed credit for the plan working, but Mr Gallagher is attributed as the real brains behind it. Fianna Fail sources say there is little love lost between the pair.

Local party activists said they were "not sure" Mr Ahern would back Mr Gallagher's candidacy.

Mr Gallagher is regarded in Fianna Fail as potentially part of a new wave of politicians. He has experience from county enterprise boards, youth work, disabilities and north-south bodies, so there's a broad mix of enterprise and community involvement.

The 48-year-old was also appointed to the new board of FAS earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe has ended speculation that he may be amongst the Fianna Fail deputies planning an exodus by confirming that he will run in the next election.

Speaking at the official opening of the RDS Christmas Craft fair, Mr O'Keeffe said Mr Ahern had indicated he had a medical condition and that it was "easier for him" to opt out now.

Mr O'Keeffe said Mr Ahern had been "outstanding" and will be a "real loss to Fianna Fail".

And he revealed that the party has had "plenty of suitors" looking to replace the Foreign Affairs Minister in the constituency.

Asked as to how he fancied the prospect of the wilderness in the opposition, Mr O'Keeffe shrugged: "That's politics".

Cautioning against writing off Fianna Fail, the minister said Fianna Fail was in "deep trouble" at the start of the last election.

Mr O'Keeffe said in the next general election people might view the opposition and see what they stand for.

"The soundbite will not be enough. We have a very intelligent electorate out there," he said.

Irish Independent

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